From Iceland — Company Retracts Rent Hike After Icelandic Union Gets Involved

Company Retracts Rent Hike After Icelandic Union Gets Involved

Published February 26, 2019

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

A rental company poised to impose a sudden rent hike on its tenants has withdrawn the measure after reaching an agreement with the labour union VR.

In a joint statement from VR and the rental company in question, Almenna­leigu­fé­lagið (AL), Kjarninn reports the two had described substantive and production discussions over the matter.

As reported, VR had threatened to withdraw over 4 billion ISK from the bank Kvika if they allowed AL to go ahead with a planned rent hike in the tens of thousands. Kvika is set to buy Gamma, the company that owns AL.

When Kvika said they have no influence over the practices of AL, VR in turn said Kvika could either stop the purchase of Gamma or have the same amount of money withdrawn from their bank.

In the wake of this news, talks between VR and AL began. AL now says that they will not only withdraw the proposed rent hike; they will also change rental contracts in order to offer longer leases, so as to “ensure secure housing at a stable rental price”.

This marks a significant change in how Icelandic labour unions act on behalf of their workers. Typically, unions concern themselves with workplaces and the conditions under which their workers operate. This operation from VR, however, has a union getting significantly involved in other aspects of their workers’ lives; in this case, their housing.

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