Housing1

Housing

One of the really complicated part about being a student in Copenhagen is finding a place to live. House hunting is never a particularly fun thing to do, but here are some tips to help you navigate the jungle of flat shares, dorms, sublets and dodgy landlords.

Campus housing is not as readily available in Denmark as it is in other countries. We therefore encourage you to look for housing that is unaffiliated with the university. By living off-campus, you will be exposed to more of the city and be more likely to experience life in Copenhagen outside of the university bubble.

In the months leading up to the start of a semester, there is normally a rush of people looking for student-friendly accommodation, particularly in the bigger cities. This is especially a problem in July and August, leading up to the start of the academic year in September.

If you haven’t been able to find anything prior to coming, make sure that you have the funds to cover the worst case scenario; such as staying at a hostel or a hotel for a long period of time. Airbnb and other private temporary sublet services are also an option here, but are often more expensive than traditional student housing.

The universities in Copenhagen have a very limited number of student residences at their disposal. However, some universities do offer assistance in finding accommodation, so ask your university before trying to find accommodation on your own.

If you are okay with living outside the city centre or further away from your university, you can save on rent. Remember to check bus/train access, commute time and ‘bike-to-city-and-university’ times before signing a contract, so that you are sure it is possible to get to university on time in the morning.

First of all: Start early

Preferably, you should begin looking as soon as you are accepted into a Danish university, but at least a month or more before you arrive in Denmark, as it can take quite a while to find a place.

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What to expect

The harsh truth is that very few Danish students have their own flat, or live in luxury. Most live in kollegiums or share a flat with other people. Expect the same to be the case for you.

If you get a room in a flat with access to a shower and kitchen, or a room at a kollegium and it’s within 30-40 minutes (bus or bike) from your university, you’re on the same level as your Danish co-students.

You can often save money by moving further away from the city, but remember to factor in the money you’ll then need for transportation.

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How to find a place to live

Official channels

This is where most people start. It is not good for short-term solutions, but if you get in, you will have a secure housing situation as long as you are a student. You simply contact the various providers of kollegiums and student flats and sign up for the waiting list. If you are lucky, they have something for you on short notice, but it’s not something we would recommend that you count on.

However, if you plan to stay in Copenhagen for more than one semester, join a waiting list or complete an application for one or several dorms. That way you might have better prospects for semesters to come, instead of a long string of sublets and temporary solutions.

Private / public postings

It is pretty self-explanatory. You check for postings either on social media, poster walls, in forums and on services for these postings. Contact the person renting out a room or an apartment and take it from there.

It is common to go see the apartment before you agree to move in. Do not pay any deposit or hand over any money without having signed a contract beforehand or been given a key. Bring a friend with you when you go to see the apartment, that way you won’t be as vulnerable to a landlord pressuring you into accepting terms you don’t want to.

Facebook, social media and network

There are a bunch of housing groups on Facebook, and some of them are even specifically for international students. Find the ones relevant to your city and join them. Be aware that most postings will get a ton of replies and quickly be gone. Use caution in regards to deposits and contract. There is always the risk that the posting may be a scam. In these groups, people might also warn each other about frauds, so they are great places to keep updated.

You can also use Facebook and other social media platforms to let your network know that you are currently looking for a place to stay. Let your classmates, friends and co-workers know that you are looking for housing, so that in the event that they hear of something, they will be sure to let you know. Danish students use Facebook to find a place to live, so you might as well join the party.

Make a post stating that you are looking for housing, remember to mention your city, preferred area and your budget for rent and ask people to contact you if they hear about anything. If you make your post public, your friends can even share it for you, resulting in a larger network of people who will see it.

University services.

Most of the universities in Copenhagen have some kind of housing office or service as well. What they can offer differs from university to university, but it is worth contacting them.

ku.dk – CPH University Housing Foundation

Housing options:

Kollegium (Residential halls and dorms)

Kollegiums are the Danish form of student residences. The kollegiums in Copenhagen house students from a variety of different universities and education levels, and are are often located throughout the city.

In these facilities, students stay in a single room, and usually share a big kitchen with 3-25 other people. The kitchens have common areas where students hang out with other residents. Living in this type of kollegium is often a very social experience and a great way to meet new people.

Some kollegiums are designed as apartments, either with your own kitchen and bathroom, or as big apartments where you share a kitchen, bathroom and common area with 2-5 other people. These kollegiums offer a bit more privacy, but don’t have the same social environment as the kollegiums with large, shared kitchens.

Admittance to a kollegium is usually determined by a waiting list, but some kollegiums accept new residents based on motivated applications.

Danish students living in kollegiums often sublet their rooms to other students when they go abroad for a semester. Ask people living in kollegiums if they know of anyone who will be subletting their room, or keep an eye out for relevant Facebook posts in the kollegium groups. You can also check out Housing Anywhere.

findbolig.nu – CIU – the centralized Kollegium and student flat service

kollegierneskontor.dk – Kollegiernes Kontor (for Copenhagen)
housinganywhere.com – Subletting

Student flats

Copenhagen and the surrounding municipalities have a number of rental flats set aside for students and young people. These are normally great deals, but require you to fulfil various criteria and the waiting list is often long, even for Danes. www.findbolig.nu is a great place to search for these, as this website covers most of these apartments.

Shared flats, renting, sublets, rooms

Most of the Danish students who don’t live in kollegiums or student flats choose to live in privately rented or shared flats, often sublets or flats owned by private landlords.

There are a lot of websites that you can search to find housing advertisements from private landlords. Some of them are free, but the majority of sites will charge a fee to reveal the owner’s contact information. If you have other friends who are also looking for a place to stay, it might be a good idea to split the fee and only make one shared profile.

If your university has online or real life message boards, these can also be good places to look for private postings for rooms and flats.

Another good resource for finding people who are subletting or renting rooms can be Facebook groups.

However, when searching online, beware of scammers. See our tips to avoid scams on this page.

denmark.angloinfo.com – Renting Property in Denmark

When sharing a flat (or a kollegium kitchen) make sure to talk about rules for cleaning, noise levels and having parties in the flat. This is normally where people disagree, which can lead to issues between flatmates. It’s better to set out the rules before any problems occur so that you’re not dealing with angry housemates.

Nice to Know

Pets

It can be difficult to find an apartment where you are allowed to have pets. Some places do allow smaller pets like birds or guinea pigs, but if you are planning to bring your pets make sure you check with the landlord or housing organization before signing the contract.

Smoking

Many apartments, especially in kollegiums and public housing are non-smoking, which means that if you are a smoker, you are only allowed to smoke outside. Use this to your advantage and get to know your neighbors while smoking.

Accessibility for disabled

Wheelchair accessible apartments are limited in Copenhagen. Especially closer to the city center where most buildings are old and therefore do not usually have elevators. Let your university know as soon as possible if you have disabilities affecting your mobility or other special requirements –they might be able to assist you. If you are responsible for finding your own accommodation try looking for newer buildings or further away from the city center. Ask the international citizens service in your municipality if they provide assistance for disabled international students. You can also contact local associations for disabled students.

Check out Tom’s blog post on being a disabled student in Copenhagen

Housing Benefits

Housing benefits (“boligstøtte” in Danish) is a subsidy for rent from the municipality. Only EU & EEA citizens are eligible to apply for this subsidy. You will be granted the subsidy if you live up to the criteria regarding rent size and the size and income of the household.

To read more and to apply go here, and click the “housing benefit” tab.

Buying

If you are looking to buy a house or an apartment, note that there are two different forms of property-ownership in Denmark: owner-occupied apartments or houses and co-operative apartments. Also note that special rules apply for foreign citizens when buying property in Denmark.

international.kk.dk – How to buy property in Copenhagen

Web resources

www.boligsurf.dk: Flats, shared apartments and rooms for rent.

boligdeal.dk: Site coordinating communication between tenants, buyers and landlords of private housing.

www.findroommate.dk: Students and others looking for roommates.

www.lejerbo.dk: Lejerbo administers apartments across Denmark, including youth housing.

www.boliga.dk: Student housing, flats, shared apartments and rooms for rent. Pay-to-view.

www.dba.dk: Ebay affiliate. List of flats and rooms for rent. Some ads are free to view.

www.boligportal.dk: Flats, shared apartments and rooms for rent.

www.bolighit.dk: Flats, shared apartments and rooms for rent.

www.lejebolig.dk: Flats, shared apartments and rooms for rent.

studyindenmark.dk – How to find housing

noun_540434 Do’s

Check who owns the rental property

If the property you are about to rent is already rented out by a private person, make sure that the landlord actually has the right to rent it out. Alternatively you can check, who owns the property at www.ois.dk. Also note if there’s a different name than the owner’s on the door and note if the name in the hallway is different from the name on the door of the apartment/rental property.

Check the rent level

Note that there are rules defining how large your rent can be. You can always get advice at your local rent council (huslejenævn) and they will be able to help you out in case of a rent level issue in court. At the same time always also remember to use your common sense and think twice if the rent seems too low.

Always view the rental property

Always view the rental property before signing the lease or transferring money to the landlord. If possible, consider carefully if the rental property is real or if there are other issues you must be aware of.

Get everything in writing

Note that there are rules defining how large your rental fee can be in Denmark. You will always be able to seek advice about the rental price your local rent council (Huslejenævnet) as well as they will be able to advice you in a court case. But again, remember to use your common sense if the rent seems to low to be true.

Document any defects

Always document the condition of the apartment by taking photos when moving in. If there are defects make sure to inform the landlord in writing at the latest 14 days after taking over the lease. You might have to live with the defects, but make sure that you inform the landlord from the start of the rental period so that you won’t be held liable when moving out again.

Note when subletting

Tenants on the Danish rental market are protected by the rental law no matter what written or oral agreements one might have made. But if you are about to rent a co-op or a sublet, be sure to ask for a written consent from the board of the co-op or the owner of the property. Also note that if the landlord himself is a tenant of the property, you will automatically become a sub-letter and thus you don’t have the same protection under the Danish rental law.

Make sure that the property is consistent with the rental contract

Note that the rental contract must be consistent with the property you are going to rent and have been shown. If the landlord shows you a different property than the one you a supposed to rent, be hesitant with signing the rental contract and transferring money for the deposit.

Make sure to go through the property

Make sure that you review the property that you are to move in to, where you with the landlord present go through the property. You have 14 days from taking over the lease to making any written oppositions regarding any defects. Take photos of the property when moving in, as these will help you document the condition of the property.

How to avoid housing scams

As in all cities with a competitive rental market, housing scams do occur when it comes to student accommodation in Copenhagen. Students, and international students in particular, are often in urgent need of housing and are unfortunately therefore more likely to fall victim to dishonest people.

Make sure you set time aside to look at housing ads and ask your friends and classmates, so that you have a solid understanding of prices and housing standards. The key elements here are to never pay without getting anything in writing and remember that if it seems dodgy or too good to be true, it probably is.

If you don’t get the rental agreement in writing or if you “pay money under the table” to get the flat, and it turns out to be a scam, you have no legal claim. So get a contract stating how much the rent is, how long you can live there and what the terms are for giving notice, being asked to move out etc. You can avoid a lot of unpleasant experiences by doing this.

If you do encounter unpleasant experiences or are scammed, the organization Lejernes LO – ‘The Danish Tenants Organisation’ – offers advice and legal counselling to people who have problems with their landlords. They can advise you on your rights and possibilities.

lejerneslo.dk – The Danish Tenants Organisation

noun_540431 Dont’s

Never pay by cash

Never pay a cash amount at a property viewing or when signing a rental contract. Instead make sure that the amount to be paid is being transferred to a Danish bank account. In that way you will always be able to prove that you have paid a deposit or prepaid rent. Don’t pay anything before you are sure who the landlord is, and that all issues regarding the lease are ok.

Never pay via a foreign bank or money transfer service

Never pay a deposit or rent to a foreign bank account or a landlord you have not met. Never pay via online payment services or international wire transfer services where the transaction cannot be returned, e.g. Western Union.

Don't accept landlord pressure

Be alert if the landlord pressures you to sign a lease. Always use your common sense and never accept to be pressured into a tenancy. If the landlord tries to put pressure on you or if the conditions regarding the tenancy seems too good to be true, something probably isn’t as it should be.

Don't be too critical about location

Especially in August and September the demand for rental properties is larger than the number of vacant properties. Therefore don’t be too critical about the location of the properties etc. Most important for most part is to find a new place and when having that the search can be done in a less stressful period. Therefore use your common sense but don’t be too critical in relation to what’s available on the market.

Never pay money under the table

Never pay money without a receipt. It is illegal (money under the table) and legally you will not be able to get your money back.

Don't pay too much in deposit and prepaid rent

Note that there are rules for maximum deposit and prepaid rent in Denmark. The deposit can as a maximum be 3 months rent, excluding bills. Prepaid rent can, at a maximum, be 3 months rent including usage.

Be aware of non-Danish speaking landlords

Be aware of landlords who do not speak Danish or are located abroad. That might be a sign of a scam.