Negotiations on rents are currently underway in Stockholm. Landlords in different parts of the country have demanded up to 17 per cent higher rents. We do not yet know what the municipally owned companies (Svenska bostäder and others) in Stockholm are demanding. Last year they demanded 9 per cent and we can expect the demand to be really high this year as well.
According to the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden), more and more people are finding it difficult to make ends meet and debts with the Enforcement Authority are increasing rapidly and are now the highest ever (1). Those of us who work every week at the Social Centre in Husby notice that more and more people cannot afford the basic necessities of life. For example, the number of people needing food has doubled. This is the situation. What should the politicians (S+V+MP) who control the municipally owned companies do? In Husby, S and V have over 50 per cent of the votes and in some electoral districts up to 30 per cent have voted for V (2). Surely the least we can ask is that politicians stand up for their own policies and act to improve the situation for those who voted for them? According to the directives, Svenska Bostäder’s activities should promote ”reasonable rents” and ”increased security” (3). How do high rent increases fit in with this?
You can afford it! Lower the rents!
Swedish housing receives about SEK 3 billion every year in rental income and about half is used to run the buildings (4). What do they use the rest for? In addition to the millions they pump into the municipality’s coffers, they obviously spend huge sums on very expensive construction projects that the tenants have to pay for (5). Should we, the tenants of the Million Programme, pay to solve the housing shortage? The only reasonable thing to do is to stop the projects and lower the rents for existing tenants. Stop talking about ”caring about the children”, it is action that counts. Reducing rents would be a strong support for all those who have seen costs soar in recent years.
Yes, you do get to decide what rents should be!
We have heard politicians say that they are ”not allowed” to tell the municipal companies what the rents should be. This is not true. Of course, the board can give instructions to the bureaucrats in the company as to what they think the rents should be. Otherwise, what is the point of the voters electing a majority in the municipality that claims to protect the interests of the tenants? The law’s reprehensible requirement of ”commercial principles” for municipal housing companies means, for example, that the companies should not have a negative result in the long term. The concept is open to interpretation. In Sundbyberg, for example, politicians have decided that tenants should always be able to choose a level of renovation that results in low rent increases (6).
Svenska bostäder, Familjebostäder, Stockholmshem! You have a special responsibility!
When rents are negotiated, the municipal companies usually negotiate the rents first and this becomes a kind of ”mark”, a normal level that affects what all the other housing companies get in the end. Therefore, Svenska bostäder and others have a special responsibility for rent levels throughout Stockholm. It is up to proof now! Are you on the tenants’ side or not?
With the above in mind, we will go out on Sunday and protest at 15:00 at Medborgarplatsen in Stockholm.
Our demand is the obvious one:
LOWER THE RENTS!
/ Place to Place – Husby