The Danish Rent Act FAQ
Here you will find answers about the most important areas of the tenancy law that could be relevant to your situation when you move into your own property.
When you have a contract in hand or want to know what to expect, it’s good to have a basic understanding of the Danish Rent Act.
The rules of tenancy legislation are complex and not always transparent in many areas. The rules can be difficult for most people to comprehend and manage in practice, both as a landlord and as a tenant. In many cases, this can inadvertently lead the parties to come into conflict with the regulations.
The FAQ is merely a general and overarching description of a range of issues most relevant to a tenant. It is not intended to be a complete, let alone exhaustive, account of how a tenant is legally positioned in the described contexts, and therefore, the information provided cannot stand alone when a dispute arises or when the tenant needs to ascertain whether the rules of the tenancy law have been violated.
The description serves as guidance, enabling both the landlord and the tenant to access information about what is generally applicable—as a basis for seeking further information or advice when needed.
What legislation applies to the letting of private homes in Denmark?
The letting of private dwellings in Denmark is regulated by the Danish Rent Act. The primary purpose of the Act is to protect the rights of tenants. The Rent Act contains rules regarding the direct contractual relationship between the landlord and the tenant and applies to both renting and subletting. The Act contains both rules that cannot be derogated from to the detriment of the tenant by agreement between the parties – as well as rules that can be derogated from by agreement. The Rent Act states directly whether a rule cannot be derogated by agreement.
Before 1 July 2022, the rental of private homes in Denmark was also regulated by the Housing Regulation Act (Boligreguleringsloven). However, the Housing Regulation Act was repealed when a new Rent Act came into force. Today, most of the rules from the Housing Regulation Act have been moved to the Rent Act. The rules that do not concern agreements between landlords and tenants have been moved to the Housing Act (Lov om boligforhold).
For tenancies where the landlord is a social housing organisation, the Danish Act on the Rental of Social Housing (Lov om leje af almene boliger) applies. The lease agreement will typically state whether the tenancy is covered by this law.
For some youth housing, rules on study activity etc. may apply in addition to the provisions of the Rent Act.
What is subletting - and are there special rules for subletting?
Subletting is when you rent out your own rented apartment – in whole or in part. Subletting is also covered by the rules of the Rent Act. The landlord cannot oppose subletting in general by agreement if the tenant follows the rules of the Rent Act – which does, however, contain some restrictions on when you can sublet.
Subletting does not create a contractual relationship between the landlord and the subtenant. Even though you are a tenant, you become a sublandlord in relation to the person you sublet to. Subletting does not change the fact that you are still bound by your lease agreement in relation to your own landlord. Therefore, you are also liable to your own landlord for any damage caused by the person you have sublet to. And even if the subtenant doesn’t pay the rent, you still must pay your rent to your landlord.
In partial subletting, the tenant may sublet no more than half of the residential rooms in the apartment, and the total number of people living in the apartment may not exceed the number of residential rooms. This means, for example, that if the tenants are a couple living in a two-bedroom apartment, partial subletting is not allowed. The landlord also has the right to require a written lease agreement between the tenant and the subtenant.
To sublet the entire apartment, the sublease must have a maximum duration of two years and the tenant’s absence must be temporary. This means that the tenant must be able to prove to the landlord that he or she will return to live in the apartment again when the sublease period terminates. In addition, the property where the apartment is situated must have 13 or more apartments in total – otherwise you must enter into a voluntary agreement with the landlord to sublet. As with partial subletting, the total number of people living in the apartment must not exceed the number of residential rooms in the apartment. The landlord may object to the sublease if the landlord has a “reasonable cause” to do so – for example, if the subtenant has previously breached an agreement with the landlord. The landlord also has the right to require a written lease agreement between the tenant and the subtenant.
If you are a subtenant, remember that you cannot make a claim against the owner of the apartment you have sublet (the landlord). You can only make a claim against the person you have sublet from. In some cases, this may mean that you are at a disadvantage if the person you have sublet from does not honor agreements.
What applies if you don't have a written lease agreement?
If you don’t have a written lease agreement, the rules of the Danish Rent Act apply without reservation. So, in this case you must find the answer to what rights you have as a tenant in the Act. The fact that there is no written agreement does not mean that you are in a worse position than what I stated in the Act – the rules on, for example, notice periods etc. apply.
Both landlord and tenant can demand a written agreement, but there are no immediate sanctions if the other party refuses. If not getting a written agreement leads to a loss, you can claim compensation.
What should the tenant be aware of if there are multiple tenants on the lease?
If there are multiple tenants on the same lease agreement, you should be aware that all tenants are jointly responsible for the lease. This means, for example, that a tenant is liable to the landlord for payment of the entire rent if one of the other tenants on the lease agreement has not paid their share – regardless of what has been mutually agreed between the tenants.
In addition, the tenant must be aware that partial termination of a lease agreement cannot be made without voluntary agreement with the landlord. In principle, all tenants must give notice to the landlord and thus vacate at the same time if they want to get out of the agreement. If the tenant move out without an agreement with the landlord, he or she will still be still bound by the lease even if he or she no longer live in the apartment.
However, the tenants and the landlord can agree that one tenant can terminate and vacate without continuing to be liable, and that the lease will continue with the other tenant(s). The landlord can also agree to another tenant joining; however, this is not always something you are entitled to expect the landlord to do.
The tenant should also be aware that a tenant who wishes to move out is not entitled to a refund of the deposit and prepaid rent from the landlord until the entire lease has been terminated, unless otherwise agreed with the landlord.
If you move into an apartment where other tenants already live, you should be aware that when you sign the lease agreement, you may be liable for the renovation of the property based on the condition of the property at the time the tenancy originally began. This also means that a tenant in principle may be liable for the entire renovation if the other tenants are unable to pay – regardless of what has been agreed between the tenants on the lease agreement.
Special rules may apply for unmarried couples and for spouses if their cohabitation ends.
How much can a landlord demand in deposit and prepaid rent when a tenant moves in?
When a tenant moves in, the landlord has the option of demanding a deposit of an amount equivalent to a maximum of 3 months’ rent, excluding any instalments for utilities. The deposit is the landlord’s guarantee that painting and any repairs can be carried out when the tenant vacates the property again.
The deposit can only be reclaimed once the tenant has vacated the property and the landlord has settled any claims for repairs. The Danish Rent Act does not specify a deadline for the landlord as to when the deposit must be returned, but in most cases, it will be within 1-2 months after the tenant has moved out. Otherwise, the tenant has the option to complain to the Rent Tribunal if the landlord does not respond.
In addition to the deposit, the landlord also has the option to demand up to 3 months’ rent in advance upon moving in, but not for more months than the length of the notice period. The prepaid rent is the landlord’s security that the landlord will receive payment of rent during the notice period. If the prepaid rent is not used during the notice period, the prepaid rent will be refunded in connection with the return of any excess deposit.
In addition, the landlord can require the tenant to pay the first month’s rent before moving in. In total, the landlord in some cases can demand an amount equivalent to 7 months’ rent when a tenant moves in.
What is a tenant's notice period?
As the main rule, a tenant has 3 months’ notice unless otherwise agreed.
If you rent a separate room in a house/flat where the landlord lives, the notice period is 1 month, unless otherwise agreed.
It is possible to agree on a longer notice period than 1/3 months, but not for a shorter period.
The notice should be in writing (to document that it has been given). It may also be that it is agreed in the lease that the notice must be in writing.
A tenant is generally liable for rent during the entire notice period, regardless of whether he or she move out earlier. However, the landlord is obliged to try to re-let the apartment once the tenant has moved out. The landlord cannot demand rent from a tenant who has moved out if a new tenant has moved in.
What is the landlord's notice period - and when can the landlord terminate a lease?
When and with what notice period a landlord can terminate a lease depends on the type of lease. Furthermore, the situations in which a landlord can terminate a lease are completely defined by the Danish Rent Act. Only when stated specifically in the Rent Act, the landlord can terminate the contract. It is not something the parties are free to agree on.
The main rule in the Rent Act is termination with 3 months’ notice but in the case of termination by the landlord, this only applies to a few cases – for example, where the tenant is in breach of contract by failing to comply with house rules.
For separate rooms that are part of the property where the landlord lives, the landlord can terminate the lease with a minimum of one month’s notice.
For a residential apartment in a house with two residential apartments, where the landlord lives in one of them, the landlord can terminate with a minimum of one year’s notice.
For a condominium or cooperative home where the landlord intends to use the premises for his own purposes, the notice period is also a minimum of one year. In general, when the landlord intends to use the premises for his own purposes the agreement may be terminated with 1 year’s notice.
When a landlord wishes to terminate a tenancy, this must be done in writing and the notice of termination must contain information about the reason for the termination. In addition, the landlord is obliged to state that the tenant has the right to object to the termination in writing within 6 weeks. If the notice does not state the said particulars, it shall be void. The objection from the tenant cannot be submitted by email – a physical letter must be sent.
If the landlord wants to uphold the termination after the tenant’s objection, the landlord must take legal action against the tenant in court.
In terms of material breach of contract by the tenant the landlord may terminate the contract without notice.
What is a fixed-term rental agreement?
In a fixed-term rental agreement, the tenant and landlord have agreed in advance on the duration of the rental agreement. Fixed-term leases can only be entered into where the landlord has a legitimate reason for doing so.
A fixed-term rental agreement does not generally need to be terminated by notice, as it ends at the end of the agreed rental period. It can be agreed that the tenant can terminate the agreement before expiry.
However, if the tenant lives in the rented property more than 1 month after the expiry of the agreed rental period without the landlord having encouraged the tenant to move, the tenancy continues indefinitely.
The rental agreement can always be terminated if there is a material breach – on the same terms as any other rental agreement.
How much can the landlord charge in rent?
How much the landlord can charge in rent depends on many different factors, such as how many apartments there are in the property you’re renting, when the property was built – and many other things. It can also vary greatly depending on where in Denmark a property is situated.
4 different rent control systems exist simultaneously in the Rent Act. All types of private rented apartments and separate rooms in Denmark are generally subject to rent regulation. Of the four types of rent regulation market rent is the only one which relates directly to supply and demand. There is no place to find out exactly how much your landlord can charge you in rent.
If you want to complain about the amount of your rent, you must file a case with the Rent Tribunal in the municipality where you live.
What can the landlord charge for in addition to the rent?
In addition to the rent, the landlord can demand payment for a tenant’s consumption of electricity, water, heating, and cooling but not fixed fees for garbage collection, laundry use or similar.
As the main rule, individual meters must be installed in the rental property for the landlord to charge a tenant for consumption.
The payment for heating and water heating cannot be included in the rent for most leases. Payment for water consumption may be included in the rent payment if there are no individual meters.
In relation to electricity for other purposes than heating, it applies – as with heating – that payment cannot be included in the rent. However, the landlord can demand payment if there are individual meters in the apartment. In most cases, however, electricity is settled directly between the utility company and the tenant.
Landlords can charge tenants for consumption on an ongoing instalment basis. Once a year, the tenant is entitled to receive an account of their consumption – and either be reimbursed for overpaid instalments or pay in arrears if too little has been charged. If the landlord does not prepare an account, the tenant can bring a case before the Rent Tribunal and possibly refrain from paying instalments in the future until an account is prepared.
What does a tenant have to maintain in the leased apartment?
What the tenant must maintain depends on what is agreed between the tenant and the landlord.
Unless otherwise agreed in the lease agreement, the only thing the tenant is obliged to maintain and possibly renew are locks and keys.
In the lease agreement, the landlord must specify whether the tenant or the landlord has the interior maintenance obligation. The interior maintenance obligation consists of whitewashing, painting, wallpapering and floor treatment.
If it has been agreed that the tenant has the interior maintenance obligation, the tenant must ensure that the lease is maintained on an ongoing basis. This means painting, etc. when required, so that traces of wear and tear are removed. When moving out, the landlord can demand that any lack of maintenance is carried out at the tenant’s expense. However, the tenant is never obliged to return the lease in a better condition when moving out than the condition the lease was in when the tenant moved in.
All maintenance other than listed above falls under the exterior maintenance obligation, even if it relates to conditions inside the apartment. Only in smaller properties (with 6 or fewer apartments) and in leases located in so-called unregulated municipalities (only a few smaller municipalities – not Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Aarhus or Odense), it can be agreed that a tenant should have a maintenance obligation in addition to “interior maintenance”.
What is a tenant liable for when the lease is vacated?
When the lease is vacated, the tenant must generally return the rented property in the same condition as at the start of the lease. If the tenant has the interior maintenance obligation according to the lease agreement, the tenant is liable for any lack of maintenance in relation to this. The landlord can, for example, demand that the walls should be painted, and the floor varnished at the tenant’s expense if the tenant has not painted etc. for several years.
The tenant is always liable for damages – regardless of whether the tenant has the maintenance obligation.
The tenant is also liable for the rent payment, including utilities, throughout the notice period. However, the landlord is obliged to try to re-let the apartment once the tenant has vacated.
When moving out of a tenancy – except for separate room rentals – a moving inspection must be carried out, which the landlord must invite the tenant to attend. If a moving inspection is not carried out, or if the tenant does not receive a moving inspection report at the inspection (or receive it within 14 days if the tenant does not attend the inspection), the landlord will not be able to make a renovation claim against the tenant.
In order for the landlord to be able to claim the tenant for any lack of maintenance when the tenant moves out a move-in inspection must have been carried out in connection with the tenant moving in.
Where can the tenant complain if they disagree with the landlord about the rental terms?
If the tenant disagrees with the landlord about the terms of the lease and no agreement can be reached after a dialogue, the tenant can appeal to the Rent Tribunal in the municipality where the lease is located. The municipality’s website will state how to lodge a complaint. A small fee must be paid when lodging the complaint.
Be aware that The Rent Tribunal cannot rule on all types of disputes between a tenant and a landlord. Certain types of disputes – for example, about termination of a lease or a tenant’s claim for damages – must instead be brought before the courts.