Decoding Rental Agreements: A Guide for International Students in Sweden

Master rental agreements in Sweden with our comprehensive guide for international students. Understand your rights, clarify terms, and ensure a smooth stay. Effective preparation and knowledge are key to a hassle-free and enriching experience in your new Swedish home.

Decoding Rental Agreements: A Guide for International Students in Sweden
Photo by Yan Krukau

Embarking on your academic journey in Sweden as an international student is an exhilarating adventure, filled with new experiences and learning opportunities. However, navigating the practicalities of settling in a new country can be daunting, especially when it comes to securing student housing. A critical component of this process is understanding rental agreements – a document that can seem perplexing but is fundamental to ensuring a comfortable and stress-free living experience.

In this guide, we delve into the intricacies of rental agreements in Sweden, tailored specifically for you, the international student. From distinguishing between first-hand and second-hand leases to decoding the fine print of your rental contract, this blog is your go-to resource for all things related to student housing agreements. Whether you're about to sign your first lease or are just curious about what to expect, we've got you covered.

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Types of Rental Agreements

Navigating the rental market in Sweden can be tricky, especially for international students unfamiliar with the local housing system. Primarily, there are two types of rental agreements you'll encounter: First-Hand Leases and Second-Hand Leases. Understanding the nuances of each is key to making an informed housing decision.

First-Hand Leases (Förstahandskontrakt)

This is a direct contract between you (the tenant) and the property owner (the landlord). It's an official rental agreement for a fixed or indefinite period. First-hand leases are often more challenging for students to obtain, particularly for international students, due to high demand and limited availability. Plus, landlords may have specific criteria, such as proof of stable income or employment, which can be a hurdle for students, especially those from abroad.

In major cities like Stockholm or Gothenburg, waiting lists for first-hand leases can be several months long, as these contracts are highly sought after due to their stability and lower rents.

A first-hand lease provides more security and tenant rights. These contracts are regulated and offer long-term stability, often with the option to renew.

Second-Hand Leases (Andrahandkontrakt)

This is more common among students. In this arrangement, you rent from a primary tenant who holds the first-hand lease. Essentially, you are subletting the property. Second-hand leases are generally more accessible for international students. They are especially prevalent in university towns and cities with large student populations.

These leases are often for shorter periods, aligning with academic semesters or terms. This can be convenient for students who need flexible living arrangements. The terms of second-hand leases can vary greatly depending on the primary tenant’s agreement with the landlord. They may have different rules regarding rent, utilities, and use of the space.

While second-hand leases are legal, it’s important to have a formal agreement to protect your rights as a tenant. Ensure that the primary tenant has the right to sublet the property.

Key Components of a Lease

  • Personal Details: Your name, personal identification number, and contact information.
  • Landlord Information: Name and contact details of the landlord or primary tenant.
  • Property Details: Address and specific details of the rental property.
  • Rental Period: Start and end dates of the tenancy. Student leases are often fixed-term, usually aligning with the academic year.
  • Rent Amount: Clearly stated monthly rent and what it includes (utilities, internet, etc.).
  • Payment Details: How and when the rent should be paid.
  • Deposit: If required, the amount, terms for refund, and conditions for any deductions.
  • Rules and Regulations: Any specific rules, like noise restrictions, use of common areas, or smoking policy.
  • Termination Policy: How the lease can be terminated by either party, including notice periods.

Before Signing the Lease

Read and Understand the Lease Thoroughly

  • Comprehend Every Clause: Make sure you understand each aspect of the lease, including rent payments, deposit terms, maintenance responsibilities, and rules regarding guests or pets.
  • Translation and Assistance: If the lease is in Swedish and you’re not fluent, seek a translation. Universities often provide support to international students, or you could ask a Swedish-speaking friend for help.
  • Research Swedish Rental Laws: Familiarize yourself with the local rental laws to ensure the lease adheres to them. This includes understanding your rights as a tenant and the landlord’s obligations.
  • Compare with Other Agreements: If possible, compare your lease with those of other students or consult online forums to ensure the terms are standard and fair.

Conduct a Detailed Inventory Check

  • Document Property Condition: Make a detailed list of all furnishings and their condition. Take photos or videos during your initial walkthrough as a record.
  • Test Appliances and Fixtures: Ensure that all appliances, electrical outlets, heating systems, and plumbing work correctly. Report any issues immediately.

Understand the Payment Terms

  • Clarify Rent and Deposit Amounts: Confirm the exact rent amount, due date, payment method, and deposit details. Understand the conditions under which your deposit may be withheld.
  • Hidden Costs: Inquire about any additional costs like utilities, internet, or maintenance fees that might not be included in the rent.

Review Termination and Renewal Policies

  • Notice Period: Check the notice period required to terminate the lease and any penalties for early termination.
  • Lease Renewal Terms: Understand the process for renewing the lease and any rent increases that may apply.

Ask Questions & Seek Advice if Necessary

  • Use University Resources: Many universities offer legal advice for international students, or they can direct you to reliable legal resources.
  • Consult a Tenant Association: Tenant associations can provide guidance and help review the lease agreement.
  • Open Communication: Don’t hesitate to ask the landlord or primary tenant any questions you have about the lease or property.
  • Get Clarifications in Writing: For any verbal agreements or clarifications, ask for them to be put in writing as part of the lease agreement.

During Tenancy

Fulfilling your Responsibilities

  • Timely Rent Payments: Always pay your rent on time. Late payments can lead to penalties or even eviction. Set reminders or automatic payments if possible.
  • Maintenance and Care: Keep the property clean and in good condition. Report any damages or issues immediately to avoid being held responsible for them later.
  • Utility Payments: If utilities aren’t included in your rent, ensure they're paid on time. Mismanagement can lead to services being cut off.
  • Internet and Other Services: Manage subscriptions like internet or cable responsibly. Avoid unauthorized upgrades or changes without the landlord’s consent.
  • Guest Policies: Understand and adhere to any rules regarding guests, including overnight stays and noise levels.

Effective Communication with your Landlord

  • Report Repairs and Issues Promptly: If something breaks or requires maintenance, inform your landlord immediately. Delaying can worsen the problem and possibly lead to bigger repair costs.
  • Keep a Record: Document your communications, especially for repair requests or complaints. An email trail can be helpful if disputes arise.
  • Be Courteous and Professional: Maintain a polite and respectful relationship with your landlord. This can lead to quicker responses and a more amicable living arrangement.

Respecting Property and Community Rules

  • Adhere to Building Regulations: This may include rules about noise, use of common areas, waste disposal, and parking. Respecting these rules ensures a harmonious living environment.
  • Consideration in Shared Spaces: If living in shared accommodation, be considerate of your roommates’ space, privacy, and comfort.

End of Lease

Departure Notice

Review your lease agreement to understand how much notice you need to provide before moving out, which is typically one to three months in Sweden. Always give notice in writing and keep a copy for your records. An email can also suffice if it's acknowledged by the landlord.

Confirm with your landlord the steps to be taken once you give notice, such as scheduling a final inspection.

Final Inspection

Prior to the final inspection, ensure the property is as clean, if not cleaner, than when you moved in. This includes washing floors, cleaning windows, and clearing out any personal belongings. Fix any damages that occurred during your stay. If you’re unable to do so, inform your landlord to discuss how these will be addressed. Remove all personal trash and belongings. Leaving items behind might result in disposal fees deducted from your deposit.

Once you're done with cleaning and repairs, set a date for the final inspection with your landlord. This should be close to your moving-out date. If possible, be present during the inspection. This allows you to address any concerns immediately. During the inspection, go through the inventory list (if provided at the start of your lease) to ensure all items are accounted for and in good condition.

Maintain documentation of the property’s condition at the time of your departure, like photographs or a signed inspection report. Once the inspection is done, you can inquire about the procedure and timeline for getting your deposit back, and, if your tenancy was positive, ask your landlord for a reference which can be beneficial for future rentals.

Some resources you can tap into as an international student, to gain a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a tenant, as well as the rights and responsibilities of your landlord, include:

  • Rental Law Compliance: Swedish rental laws protect tenants’ rights. Familiarize yourself with these to understand your entitlements and obligations. Swedish law offers strong protection for tenants. This includes rights regarding security of tenure, reasonable rent, and protection against unjust eviction.
  • Local Tenant Associations: Tenant associations provide valuable advice on rental agreements, disputes, and tenant rights. They can also assist in negotiations with landlords. Joining a tenant association can also be a great way to network and meet other tenants, especially useful for international students new to Sweden.
  • University Housing Resources: Many universities in Sweden have housing offices that offer guidance on finding accommodation, understanding leases, and dealing with legal issues. Some universities even provide legal aid services or can refer you to legal experts who specialize in housing laws.
  • Governmental Resources: Utilize government websites for accurate information on tenant rights and housing regulations.


Understanding your rental agreement is crucial for a hassle-free living experience in Sweden. Ensure all terms are clear and your rights as a tenant are respected. Good preparation and knowledge of Swedish rental laws will help you navigate this aspect of your student life with ease.

As you embark on this exciting chapter of your life in Sweden, remember that a well-understood rental agreement sets the stage for a fulfilling and worry-free academic tenure. By being well-prepared, informed, and proactive, you can navigate this aspect of your student life with confidence and ease, leaving you free to immerse yourself fully in the vibrant culture and educational excellence that Sweden has to offer.