The primary vision for the Norwegian housing policy is adequate and secure housing for all.
The Housing and Building Department in the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation is responsible for implementing the government’s housing and building policy. Housing and building policy objectives are achieved through financial and legislative instruments, competence development, guidelines and information. The Norwegian State Housing Bank, the Norwegian Building Authority and the Rent Disputes Tribunal all work closely with the Department.
Two White Papers on housing and building policy have been presented to the Parliament during 2012 and 2013. These outline the overall goals for the Norwegian housing and building policy. The White Papers are only available in Norwegian.
The goals for the housing and building policy that are outlined in these White Papers are:
- Houses/ homes for everyone, in good living environments
- Security of tenure in owned and rental homes
- Housing conditions that promote prosperity and participation in society
- Well-designed, secure, energy-efficient and healthy buildings
- Better and more efficient construction processes
The main instruments for implementing housing policy are housing legislation, housing allowances, grants to help people to obtain their own home and loans and grants for building and upgrading housing units.
Providing information and guidelines is an important measure for achieving the policy objectives. In order to facilitate the functioning of the housing and building markets, the Department ensures that there is a sound, effective legal framework, an efficient system for dealing with building matters, slower rises in construction costs, a high level of expertise and an efficient inspection system for the building industry. The Department also ensures that the relevant information is available and maintains an overview over the housing and building markets.
Another task for the Department is combating poverty and homelessness by providing homes for those who are unable to gain access to the housing market. Thus it assists persons with low incomes, such as refugees and persons with disabilities in setting up a home.
As part of the efforts to promote sustainable quality, security and high aesthetic standards in the built environment, the Department takes measures to reduce energy use and the use of building materials that are hazardous to health and the environment. It promotes awareness and knowledge of good building practices and sound urban settlement development, and takes measures to reduce building errors and building faults and damages.
The Department seeks to ensure that a larger number of homes, buildings and outdoor spaces are based on universal design principles, and promotes awareness and knowledge of universal design among consumers, local government authorities and key actors involved in the building process.
The Department participates in the United Nations Human Settlements Programme HABITAT, which deals with challenges such as providing adequate shelter for the deprived urban and rural poor, dealing with increasing urbanisation, and promoting democracy.
The Norwegian State Housing Bank
The Norwegian State Housing Bank (NSHB) is the government’s main implementing agency for social housing policy, and uses financial measures to facilitate the achievement of housing policy goals. The most important financial measures are basic loans, start-up loans, housing grants and housing allowances. The NSHB also administers the government compensation scheme for renovation of schools and churches, provides loans to day-care centres and subsidises student housing. The NSHB is a resource centre for housing policy matters, and takes an active role in providing information and guidelines and promoting knowledge development.
The head office is located in Drammen, and there are regional offices located in Oslo, Arendal, Bergen, Trondheim, Bodø and Hammerfest. The bank has an appeals board.
Norwegian Building Authority
The Norwegian Building Authority is a main agency for the implementation of technical regulation, inspection authority for ensuring compliance with the rules concerning product documentation and administrator of the central approval of enterprises according to rules set in the Planning and Building Act.
The goal is in general that all buildings shall be suitable and beneficial for the individuals as well as for society. Accordingly, these aspects are emphasised; health, the environment, security and overall suitability through rules for new buildings, and for existing buildings that are to be altered or rebuilt. To achieve the goals, The Building Authority cooperate with other authorities, the construction industry, consumers and organisations. The Building Authority also work with Nordic authorities and bodies related to the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Building Authority's instruments are to develop and propose new regulations to the Ministry, to develop guidelines and information. teaching and distribution of knowledge, by themselves or in cooperation with others.
The Norwegian Building Authority is located in Oslo and at Gjøvik. Please see www.dibk.no for more information (the page is presently only available in Norwegian).
The Rent Disputes Tribunal
The Rent Disputes Tribunal is a trial scheme for providing an alternative to the courts for dispute settlements related to the Tenancy Acts of 1939 and 1999, covering the geographical areas of Oslo, Viken, Vestland and Trøndelag. The Tribunal offers conflict solving carried out within a short frame of time and at a low economic cost.
The Tribunal can offer both settlements and decisions. Both landlords and tenants can raise a case about residential property for the Rent Disputes Tribunal. The person making the complaint must pay a case processing fee in advance that corresponds to the basic court fee, presently 860 NOK. The parties will first be offered mediation. If an agreement is reached, the case can be closed and the parties given assistance to set up a contract. If the mediation does not arrive at an agreement, the case will be settled by a lawyer accompanied by two tribunal members from respectively a tenant and a landlord association. Mediated results and settlements have the same legal effect as a court judgment unless the case is brought before the district court within a time limit of one month.
Cases on residential property arising in Oslo, Viken, Vestland and Trøndelag are to be brought before the Rent Disputes Tribunal as the first line of court handling. In other areas of the country, cases must be brought before the municipal court of conciliation. The Rent Disputes Tribunal also provide general information to the public in it's area of expertise.
The Rent Disputes Tribunal has offices in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.
Please see http://www.htu.no/no/englishhtu for more information.