General information about Norwegian housing policy

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 National Office of Building Technology and Administration, and the Rent Disputes Tribunal in Oslo and Akershus all work closely with the Department.

The overall objectives of the government’s housing and building policy are

  • to seek to ensure that everyone has an adequate, secure place to live
  • building matters are dealt with in an efficient and user-friendly manner
  • homes, buildings and outdoor spaces are environmentally friendly and based on universal design principles.

The Department seeks to achieve these objectives by

  • ensuring favourable conditions for a well-functioning housing market
  • providing homes for those who have difficulty entering the housing market
  • ensuring sustainable quality, security and high aesthetic standards in the built environment
  • encouraging the building of more homes and buildings based on universal design principles

The main instruments for implementing housing policy are housing legislation (the House-building Cooperatives Act, the Housing Cooperatives Act, the Joint Housing Ownership Act, the Landlord and Tenants Act, and the Act relating to the municipal right of pre-emption with regard to apartment blocks) and the loans, subsidies and other support provided by the Housing Bank.

The main instruments for implementing building policy are the provisions of the Planning and Building Act relating to building requirements; the procedures dealing with building matters and inspections and handling of applications and requirements for building control; approval of individuals and enterprises exercising the right to accept responsibility; expropriation and reimbursement provisions in the Planning and Building Act; and expropriation in accordance with the Act relating to compensation for expropriation of real property. The Department’s responsibility also covers the Act relating to the approval and operation of installations for use in amusement parks and fairgrounds.

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 that the housing and building markets are transparent.

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 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 appeals board is located in Bodø.

National Office of Building Technology and Administration
The National Office of Building Technology and Administration is the main agency for implementing building policy. The Office advises the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation and other central government bodies on technical regulations and administrative provisions relating to building policy measures. The Office seeks to ensure that actors in the building industry are aware of the relevant building legislation through guidelines and information. It is also the inspection authority for ensuring compliance with the rules concerning product documentation and is responsible for ensuring the safety of fairground installations.

The Office is responsible for the central approval of persons exercising the right to accept responsibility, for example for self-inspection in accordance with the Planning and Building Act. The Office follows developments in the EU, for example with respect to the Construction Products Directive, standardisation and so on.

The Office is located in Oslo.

Please see DIBK.no for more information.

The Rent Disputes Tribunal in Oslo and Akershus
The Rent Disputes Tribunal provides an alternative to the courts for dispute settlement. The Tribunal may decide disputes relating to the rental of residential accommodation that are governed by the Tenancy Acts of 1939 and 1999.

The purpose of the Tribunal is to resolve conflicts more quickly and at a lower cost than what would be possible in an ordinary court of law. The scheme is voluntary. However, as from 1 July 2006 disputes relating to matters under the Rent Disputes Tribunal must be submitted to the Tribunal rather than the conciliation board in areas where such a tribunal has been established.

The Tribunal usually resolves cases by mediation. If this does not lead to a resolution of the conflict, the case officer takes a decision in cooperation with representatives of the Norwegian Landowners’ Association and the Norwegian Tenants’ Association respectively. Conciliation and decisions are legally binding unless one or both of the parties appeals to a court within a deadline of one month.

The Rent Disputes Tribunal has offices in Oslo (covers Oslo and Akershus), Bergen and Trondheim.

Please see www.htu.no for more information.