On this page, the obligations and rights of individuals in the rental market are discussed in detail, and we try to explain this in a simple way. All information about rights and obligations is based on the Rent Act no. 36/1994, but they can be accessed on Alþingis website.
Yes, the House Tenancy Act requires that the tenancy agreement for housing be in writing and that certain items (see the list in Article 6 of the House Tenancy Act) must be stated there. If something comes up during the rental period, it is good for everyone to have a written contract. However, the House Tenancy Act applies in all respects to the rent even if no written contract is drawn up. If a written rental agreement is not made, it is considered that you and the landlord have entered into an open-ended rental agreement. The amount of the rent is the amount that the landlord can show that you have agreed to.
On the website of the Ministry of Social Affairs you will find forms for standard leases free of charge. It shouldn't be such a big deal to conclude a written contract when you start renting.
Then you have to make an assessment of the condition of the premises and make a report about it called an assessment statement. When you return the home, the report is used to see if wear and tear on the home is more than normal or if something has been damaged. You can do this assessment yourself with the landlord or get an independent third party to do it.
Notarization is a public record of documents to protect your rights against third parties. There is no requirement for lease agreements to be notarized and therefore not required to be notarized for the contract to be valid. The terms of the agreement are binding on you and the landlord, whether or not the agreement is notarized. However, you will need to notarize the agreement if you intend to apply for housing benefit.
If you negotiate to exercise more rights than those mentioned in the Tenancy Act, there may be grounds for notarizing the agreement. This ensures that you do not lose these additional rights towards third parties.
You take the original contract to the district commissioner's office and pay the registration fee according to the price list. You must also submit a photocopy of the contract on certified document paper. It is available in most stationery stores. Notarization often takes a few business days, and when it's done, you pick up the contract back at the district commissioner's office.
Many tenants are entitled to housing benefit. You can apply for them on the Housing and Infrastructure Agency website. There is also a list of the conditions that must be met and a calculator to estimate the amount you are entitled to.
Rent is usually paid in advance, one month at a time, on the first of each month. It is possible to change this arrangement, but then it must be stated in the lease agreement. You and the landlord are free to agree on the amount and whether it should change in any way during the rental period.
Usually, the landlord asks you to provide a security deposit before handing over the premises to the tenant. If rent is not paid or something is damaged, the landlord can claim the security deposit. The landlord has 4 weeks according to the Tenancy Act to make such a claim after the rental property has been returned.
In the House Rent Act (see list in Article 40) there are examples of five different forms of insurance that can be submitted. This point can usually be negotiated with the landlord.
It is usually negotiated, usually a security deposit equal to two to three months' rent is requested. The amount may not be higher than three months' rent according to the rental agreement, if the landlord requests a surety bond from a third party or insurance money.
The landlord can then refer the case to the Housing Appeals Committee or file a lawsuit regarding the tenant's liability for compensation. He has 4 weeks to do that. The landlord keeps the security deposit while the case goes before the appeals committee or the courts. More information about the appeals committee can be found on the website of the Board of Directors.
The landlord must keep the money in an unrestricted account with a commercial bank or savings bank. If the landlord does not claim the security deposit, he must return the money to you, together with the interest that has accrued on it during the rental period, without any delay.
Then he has to pay interest on arrears from the day four weeks have passed since the house was returned and until he returns the security deposit.
Housing cannot be rented out in any condition. The Housing Act requires that the housing meet certain requirements, for example regarding hygiene, water and drainage systems and fire protection, to name a few. You should take care to inspect the premises carefully before you rent to make sure that it meets your requirements before signing the lease. A detailed property inspection must be carried out upon delivery and return of property.
Then you need to notify your landlord in writing and demand that the defects be rectified. If other defects occur during the rental period, you must notify the lessor in writing within fourteen days of discovering them. If you do not notify in time, your landlord may consider that you accept the condition of the premises.
If the landlord has not responded to your written suggestions, you can undertake repairs to the property yourself and then deduct the costs from the rent. In order for this to be allowed, you need to get an independent appraiser to verifiably confirm that maintenance is necessary.
In general, it is the landlord who must take care of all maintenance of the premises, inside and out. However, this does not include minor maintenance such as changing light bulbs, cleaning drains, tightening screws and the like. However, parties are given some freedom to agree that maintenance within the apartment is in the hands of the tenant. If this is done, the lease must clearly define which maintenance is the tenant's responsibility.
Then you must give the landlord a written account of what needs to be fixed and challenge him to act. If he does not respond, after four weeks you can obtain the approval of an independent assessor to undertake repairs yourself and can deduct the cost from the rent. If eight weeks pass without the landlord responding, you may cancel the contract.
Then you must repair the damage as soon as possible. Otherwise, the landlord can have the damage repaired at your expense. First, however, he must notify you of his comments in writing and explain what he wants done. Then you have four weeks to respond and complete the repair. If you do not respond within four weeks, the landlord can have repairs carried out at your expense after an independent inspector has given his approval.
Usually, it is the landlord who is responsible for paying real estate taxes, annual utilities fees and fees to the housing fund. You as a tenant pay the costs for electricity and heating. The parties may agree on another measure, but this must be clearly stated in the contract.
A temporary lease ends on the agreed date. There is no need to report it separately. Normally, a temporary rental agreement will not be terminated by termination of the rental period, but it is allowed in certain cases, which must then be defined in advance in the rental agreement.
When a temporary lease allows termination, the mutual notice period must be at least three months. Termination must be notified in writing and substantiated.
You may terminate an open-ended tenancy agreement at any time. However, the notice period varies depending on the type of housing contract. The termination must be in writing.
The notice period is deemed to begin on the first day of the following month after the written notice of termination is sent.
If you do not move out within eight weeks of the end of the tenancy, whether due to termination or not, the tenancy is deemed to be extended indefinitely. However, this does not apply if the landlord has asked you to vacate the premises or if you have not fulfilled your obligations under the contract, e.g. to pay rent or fulfill other obligations.
Termination effectively means that the contract ceases to be in force. You then no longer have possession of the premises and of course stop paying rent at the same time. The Tenancy Act provides for certain cases that allow both you and the landlord to cancel the contract. They are listed in Articles 60 and 61. of the law.
Roughly speaking, the reasons are as follows:
The landlord's grounds for termination are briefly the following:
In most cases, you need to send a notice to the landlord and ask him to fix what you don't think is right before cancellation can be considered permitted. The same applies if he intends to cancel. Such a challenge must be in writing and sent in a verifiable way, e.g. by registered mail. It is not enough to challenge him verbally. It is extremely important that you make sure that the circumstances are such that you can cancel the contract. If you cancel illegally, it can lead to liability, so it is always better to proceed slowly. Severance is an absolute last resort.
You must return the home in the same condition as you received it, the same applies to what came with the home. It is normal for there to be some wear and tear on housing, but you may have to pay the landlord compensation if the wear and tear is more than what can be considered normal. It can also happen if an apartment is returned dirty or poorly cleaned. That's why it's important to work hard on the appraisal statement you create before you move in and take photos of the home.
The person who is registered for meters is responsible for notifying the transfer to the electricity and heat supply agencies and he has to pay energy bills until then. That's why it's important that you read the electricity and heat meters until you move out.
It is a good rule of thumb to communicate in writing. It can make matters much easier if there is a dispute. Sometimes you are required to send a notification, and it is important that you do so in a so-called "verifiable and secure manner".
If a dispute arises, you can always contact the housing appeals committee. You need to send the committee a report in writing and make it clear what the matter is about, e.g. what requirements are made and the justification for them. The committee issues a written and binding ruling when everyone has had the opportunity to express their views. It is then possible to take the decision to court within eight weeks from the time it was pronounced. It is a good idea to seek the advice of a lawyer when cases are referred to the housing committee.