From Iceland — Know Your Rights: The Reykjavík Housing Market

Know Your Rights: The Reykjavík Housing Market

Published December 11, 2017

Elías Þórsson
Photo by
Art Bicnick

It is a well known fact that the Reykjavík housing market is a cruel mess meant to make you hurt. For instance, last month we reported on the 3 immigrants who were paying 210 thousand for shared 8 m2 room and the tiny toilet-in-the-shower room.

However, despite the grim reality facing tenants there are plenty of rules and laws in place meant to protect you, the problem is just that not everybody knows about them. Therefore, we have compiled a list of some of the things an apartment must have in order to be rented out legally.

The requirements


Each apartment needs to include hygiene facilities, such as a water toilet, a bath/shower and a sink. These can either be placed in one room of a minimum size of 4.8 m2 or two rooms totalling at least 65 m2 and a sink needs to be in both.

Bathrooms need to be properly ventilated, either with a window or in another satisfactory way.

Access to bathrooms may not be from a living room, kitchen or a dining room, unless the apartment is 50 m2 or less. Access through a bedroom is only permissible if another bathroom is in the apartment. Access to other rooms through the bathroom is not permitted.


Each room in an apartment needs to have a window that can not be smaller than 1/10 of the room’s floorspace. The same applies for kitchens, unless the kitchen is connected to a living room.

Doors to rooms need to be at least 0.8 metres wide and 2 metres high.

Ceilings in apartments need to be at least 2.7 to 2.8 metres high. Attic rooms need to have an average ceiling height of at least 2.5 metres.

What to do?

Should your current or future apartment fail to fulfil any or all of these requirement you should contact Byggingarfulltrúi Reykjavíkur (Reykjavík’s housing representative) and inform the office of your situation.

It is also important to keep in mind that if you are renting an unlicensed apartment you are not eligible to any rent benefits, so you might in fact be paying more than if you are renting a more expensive legal apartment.

Don’t be quiet, let’s make this market better!

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