Originally, we intended to investigate the beggar ban in Sweden, focusing on the municipality of Vellinge that recently voted in favor of banning beggars in their small municipality, where the opposition claims there are only around four beggars. However, after some further investigation we decided to let that project be as we could not find the right angle to approach the topic for the coming three week investigation.
Instead we discussed the issue of finding accommodation in Gothenburg and concluded that this topic needs further investigation, it also fits the timeframe better.
Finding a rental apartment in Gothenburg is not an easy game, it seems to many as an impossible task. According to jagvillhabostad.nu, there are today almost 250 000 individuals between 20-27 years who do not have a home or is currently looking for one in Sweden.
Gothenburg is Sweden’s second largest city and with a large university and many international companies it attracts both international and national students and young professionals. As the lines does not seem to get any shorter at the well-known market platforms for rental apartments in Gothenburg, such as boplats and SGS, the markets for second hand contracts and the black market are a continuous problem.
This housing issue creates an opportunity for homeowners, or individuals with a first hand rental contract, to take advantage of people in desperate need of a place to stay.
Our hypothesis builds on the assumption that young individuals are particularly exposed to this issue. As a student you have to stand in line on the platform of SGS for years before you are able to receive a first hand contract for a student apartment which is similar for boplats (offers apartments not only to students) as well. In this regard, we believe that international young individuals may be particularly exposed on the (rental) housing market. First, as an international student or young professional you are not as likely to know that far in advance that you are moving to Gothenburg and second you might not know about the current housing situation. The majority of these individuals presumably also have a smaller (if any) network of acquaintances that may be able to help them.
In this context, we have come up with the following hypotheses to start our investigation:
- The current housing situation in Gothenburg allows for homeowners (or individuals with a first hand rental contract) to take advantage of individuals in desperate need of a place to stay.
- International students are particularly exposed to this issue.
We expect this to change over time and plan to narrow it down as we gain a larger insight to the topic.
Unsurprisingly there is a large market for second hand apartments in most major Swedish cities. Renting an apartment on the black market is also not uncommon and young individuals are particularly exposed to this issue. We want to further investigate the implications of this issue, focusing on the younger generation as a particularly exposed group. Many have had bad experiences while looking for accommodation in Gothenburg, this can be illustrated by the example of us posting a request, on one of the many facebook groups for individuals looking for housing in Gothenburg, asking for people to contact us if they have had any negative experiences related to this. Within hours we got several replies, both private messages and comments on the post, which keep coming in.
We believe that individuals and private companies taking advantage of people in desperate need for a place to stay need to be held accountable and politicians of the municipality need to take action to provide more and better opportunities on the housing market.
The geographical scope is limited to Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, where the lack of available accommodation is a major issue. Furthermore, living in Gothenburg it will be easier for us to meet interviewees and experts to talk to.
The target group is young individuals, presumably international citizens, that are likely to be particularly exposed to issues related to the lack of available accommodation.
To gain relevant background information on topic we plan to further look into what has previously been reported on this issue, including journalistic articles, reports and statistics. This will be complemented with expert interviews, both considering the legal aspects of the issue as well as the experience of representatives for organizations, both within the public and private sector. We may also conduct our own online survey to gain further insight to the experiences of our target group in Gothenburg if we cannot find the data we need from sources already available.
Furthermore, we plan to conduct more in-depth interviews with individuals who have had negative experiences on the second-hand and black markets as a result of the lack of first hand contracts available. Depending on the outcome of these interviews we may further narrow down our hypothesis and/or further investigate a particular aspect related to the experience(s) of our interviewees.
There are a lot of sources available to investigate this issue. Below is a list with relevant organizations/actors that are likely to have (or be able to provide us with) relevant information:
- Previous reports / articles / research (background information)
- SGS and Boplats (main market places for apartments available through the municipality): Here we can find information on the prices, average number of days you have to wait to get a contract. There are also other housing companies that apply the same queuing system.
- Private housing companies: Several private companies does not use the same queuing system as boplats, which means that you are likely (may be able to) get a first hand contract faster with a private housing company.
- City of Gothenburg: What is the plan for the future? When will there be enough apartments for the people of Gothenburg? How have they/do the plan to tackle this issue? (According to Hyresgästföreningen Sweden needs 200 000 new rental apartments until 2025)
- Blocket.se: Second hand market – overprized? Fraud?
- Individuals with personal experience(s): Further insight to individual cases
- Legal aspect: What is allowed and who will make sure no one violates the laws and regulations?
- Hyresgästföreningen: Organization supporting tenants all over Sweden.
- Own online survey: Possibility if we can not find relevant data through other sources.
- Facebook (groups to find housing): Possibility to read about (and interview) individuals with different experiences from the housing market in Gothenburg.
We would like to present our findings through a short documentary (5-10 minutes) and an interactive text version with pictures and infographics. In the video we plan to highlight the most important aspects of the lack of available accommodation and what implications that has for the younger generation as a particularly exposed group. Generally, the text will provide more in-depth information and background information on the topic whereas the video will be more focused around the individual interviews.