I have previously written a blog about legal forms of home ownership in Norway, where I emphasized that both ownership models, cooperative housing associations (borettslag) and joint ownership (sameie), are secure housing options regulated by good laws and functioning effectively.
What I want to share with you additionally is how these housing associations work in practice.
When you purchase an apartment in Norway, you’re not just buying the property itself; you’re buying into a community that is either a cooperative housing association or a joint ownership. The law dictates how these entities should be managed, who is responsible, what decisions are made by the elected board, and what must be discussed at the general meeting or co-owner’s meeting, where all property owners can attend and cast their votes.
What’s great is that the board is composed of people who live in the housing association, and as such, they have a vested interest in running it as effectively as possible. They receive valuable assistance from professional property managers who handle accounting and budgeting, collect common fees, provide assistance with maintenance plans, and organize annual meetings.
Each housing association has its own articles of association that align with the law. In addition, there is the option to have specific rules on certain matters, such as the housing association’s responsibility for maintenance and the individual owner’s responsibilities. For example, in some places, window replacement is the responsibility of the housing association, while in others, it’s the responsibility of the individual apartment owner. Therefore, it’s always advisable to review the articles of association.
When I assist you with your property purchase, I always go through the documents provided by the property manager, including the annual report and financial statements, to check whether the housing association is being run well or if there are specific issues you should be vigilant about. For instance, excessive renting out of units and complaints about noise or significant upcoming expenses that will be passed on to you through common fees.
I find that many foreigners looking to buy an apartment are somewhat anxious about whether the buildings and housing association will be adequately maintained by the board and property manager. This is a healthy skepticism, and we always need to verify, as I’ve described above.
But overall, we are good at managing housing associations and taking collective responsibility in Norway, and the entire system is well-organized through legislation. So, you can generally feel secure when buying an apartment in a housing complex in Norway.