Published January 4, 2017
An Icelander offering a 20m2 room by Kringlan for the princely sum of 115,000 ISK per month has caught the attention of social media as being symptomatic of Reykjavík’s rental crisis. The would-be landlord has defended setting the rent that high for particularly vague reasons.
Journalist Atli Viðar Þorsteinsson posted several screenshots yesterday, one of them from Ingibjörg Óðinsdóttir, a former alternate MP for the Independence Party. She advertises a “big room” of 20m2 for 115,000 ISK per month, with “everything included” – apart from one’s own bathroom or kitchen, apparently, which must be shared with other tenants. The ad is written in both Icelandic and English.
Other screenshots include her statements as a politician in wanting to “place special emphasis on housing matters” in Iceland.
DV caught up with Ingibjörg for a response. She responded that she believes “the market would respond in such a way that if the asking price was too high, people would offer to pay less.” However, nowhere in her ad does she indicate that the rent is negotiable. She further contended that “people are unaware of the cost of renting out” a room, by way of explaining why she is asking for more than half a month’s salary (for a worker making minimum wage) for a room of 20m2.
As many of our readers are aware, rental rates have been soaring in Reykjavík. West of Kringlumýrarbraut, in western Reykjavík, and in Seltjarnarnes – a separate municipality located on the eastern tip of the Reykjavík peninsula – rental rates were at 1,637 ISK per square metre in January 2011, and a 50m² apartment in these areas went for about 81,850 ISK per month. In July 2016, however, the average square metre of rental space went for 2,512 ISK, and the average monthly rent was 125,600 ISK.
In addition, AirBnB rentals have been amongst the contributing factors that have pushed up rent rates. Jóhann Már Sigurbjörnsson, the chairperson of the Renters’ Association of Iceland, says that locals simply cannot compete with tourists on the rental market. In some cases, he says, renters have been asked by landlords to vacate their properties during high tourist season.
“This condition implies that renters have to pack up their stuff and move out while landlords rent out the property to tourists,” he told reporters. “The government, local authorities, and even labour unions must respond to this. There are thousands of apartments going off the rental market and onto the tourist market. Nothing comes in their place.”