Oslo should do what Barcelona and several other European cities have done: Crack down on the extent of downtown rentals via Airbnb, claims top Labour Party politician Jan Bøhler. The online services allows travelers to rent rooms or entire apartments as an alternative to hotels.
“It’s a big problem when as many as 40 percent of apartments sold in Oslo are bought up by people who won’t live in them, but rather rent them out, for example through Airbnb,” Bøhler told NRK. Bøhler and many other officials think the practice has contributed to driving up housing prices in Oslo and other Norwegian cities to record-high levels. “It’s making it even harder for people who need a place to live in Oslo,” he said.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported this week that homeowner associations have also begun objecting to excessive Airbnb activity, claiming that non-owner-occupied units generate more wear and tear and generally aren’t maintained as well as owner-occupied units.
The housing crunch is so severe in Oslo that investors are also buying up single-family homes and renting them out to as many as 15 people. In one case, DN found an online ad for a sleeping unit located inside a closet that could be rented for NOK 2,000 (USD 240) a month. One small room inside the house at Oppsal on Oslo’s east side was on the market for NOK 4,000. Neighbours have complained of excessive traffic and garbage to city officials, but they have no legal means of restricting how many people can live in a house.
Fire- and health officials, however, could finally crack down when they found someone living in a room with no windows. They also ordered the homeowner, a retired Norwegian real estate investor, to clean up the garbage around the house and remove two camping trailers that were parked in the yard.