The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has rejected an appeal by the Norwegian government to retain its law restricting landowners’ rights to adjust rates when leasing out their property through so-called festet (land lease) contracts.
The ruling cements an earlier court victory for Norwegian landowners, who had been prevented from changing the terms of long-term leases on their property when they come up for renewal. Several sued, and after losing in the Norwegian court system, they appealed to the Court of Human Rights.
The court ruled that the law governing terms between a landowner and lease-holder violated the landowners’ human rights, not least when a lease contract changed hands. Now the landowners can raise rates and change the terms of leases, while lease-holders in Norway no longer may be able to retain many favourable lease contracts, often at artificially low rates.
Lease-holders fear some families may no longer be able to keep the homes or cabins they’ve built on leased land, if the lease rates rise substantially. The court ruling was deemed historic in Norway, for effectively striking down a law that had been in practice for years.