The Housing and Building Department is responsible for implementing the government’s housing and building policy.
The Housing and Building Department
Housing and building policy objectives are achieved through financial and legislative instruments, competence development, guidelines and information. The Norwegian State Housing Bank, the Norwegian Building Authority and the Rent Disputes Tribunal all work closely with the Department.
Two White Papers on housing and building policy have been presented to the Parliament during 2012 and 2013. These outline the overall goals for the Norwegian housing and building policy. The White Papers are only available in Norwegian. The documents are as follows: On building policy; Meld. St. 28 (2011-2012) Gode bygg for eit betre samfunn, including the Parliament document Innst. 129 S (2012-2013), and on housing policy; Meld. St. 17. (2012-2013) Byggje - bu - leve, including the Parliament document Innst. 506 S (2012-2013).
The goals for the housing and building policy that are outlined in these White Papers are:
- Houses/ homes for everyone, in good living environments
- Security of tenure in owned and rental homes
- Housing conditions that promote prosperity and participation in society
- Well-designed, secure, energy-efficient and healthy buildings
- Better and more efficient construction processes
The main instruments for implementing the housing policy are housing legislation (the House-building Cooperatives Act, the Housing Cooperatives Act, the Joint Housing Ownership Act, the Landlord and Tenants Act, and the Act relating to the municipal right of pre-emption with regard to apartment blocks) and loans, subsidies and other support provided by the State Housing Bank.
The main instruments for implementing the building policy are the provisions of the Planning and Building Act relating to building requirements; the procedures dealing with building matters and inspections and handling of applications and requirements for building control; approval of individuals and enterprises exercising the right to accept responsibility; expropriation and reimbursement provisions in the Planning and Building Act; and expropriation in accordance with the Act relating to compensation for expropriation of real property. The Department’s responsibility also covers the Act relating to the approval and operation of installations for use in amusement parks and fairgrounds. Providing information and guidelines is also an important measure to achieve the policy objectives.
In order to facilitate the functioning of the housing and building markets, the Department ensures that there is a sound, effective legal framework, an efficient system for dealing with building matters, a reduced rise in the construction costs, a high level of expertise and an efficient inspection system for the building industry. The Department also ensures that the relevant information is available and maintains an overview over the housing and building markets.
Another task for the Department is combating poverty and homelessness by providing homes for those who are unable to gain access to the housing market. It helps providing assistance for persons with low incomes, such as refugees and persons with disabilities, in setting up homes.
As part of the efforts to promote sustainable quality, security and high aesthetic standards in the built environment, the Department takes measures to reduce energy use and the use of building materials that are hazardous to health and the environment. It promotes awareness and knowledge of good building practices and sound urban settlement development, and takes measures to reduce building errors and building faults and damages.
The Department seeks to ensure that a larger number of homes, buildings and outdoor spaces are based on universal design principles, and promotes awareness and knowledge of universal design among consumers, local government authorities and key actors involved in the building process.
The Department participates in work related to housing and building matters in international bodies, among them activities within the Nordic Council of Ministers and the European Union/ the European Economic Area.
The Norwegian State Housing Bank
The Norwegian State Housing Bank is the government’s main implementing agency for housing policy, and uses financial measures to facilitate the achievement of housing policy goals. The most important financial measures are basic loans, start-up loans, housing grants and housing allowances. The Bank also administers the government compensation scheme for renovation of schools and churches, provides loans to day-care centres and grants for student housing.
The Bank is a centre of competence for housing policy matters, and takes an active role in providing information and guidelines and promoting knowledge development.
The head office is located in Drammen, and there are regional offices located in Oslo, Arendal, Bergen, Trondheim, Bodø and Hammerfest. Furthermore, the Bank has an appeal board.
Please see www.husbanken.no for more information.
Norwegian Building Authority
The Norwegian Building Authority is a main agency for the implementation of technical regulation, inspection authority for ensuring compliance with the rules concerning product documentation and administrator of the central approval of enterprises according to rules set in the Planning and Building Act. The goal is in general that all buildings shall be suitable and beneficial for the individuals as well as for society. Accordingly, these aspects are emphasised; health, the environment, security and overall suitability through rules for new buildings, and for excisting buildings that are to be altered or rebuilt. To achieve the goals, The Building Authority cooperate with other authorities, the construction industry, consumers and organisations. The Building Authority also work with Nordic authorities and bodies related to the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Building Authority's instruments are to develop and propose new regulations to the Ministry, to develop guidlelines and information. teaching and distribution of knowledge, by themselves or in cooperation with others. The approval of enterprises, and following these up, are important. It is a core task to assure that the regulations work and are applied, and The Building Authority assists the local authorities in complex cases. The Building Authority serves as an advisor for the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation - they have few tasks directly related to building cases; here the municipality is the principal authority, while appeals are handled by the County Governor.
The Norwegian Building Authority is located in Oslo and at Gjøvik.
Please see www.dibk.no for more information (the page is presently only available in Norwegian).
The Rent Disputes Tribunal
The Rent Disputes Tribunal is a trial scheme for providing an alternative to the courts for dispute settlements related to the Tenancy Acts of 1939 and 1999, covering the geographical areas of Oslo, Akershus, Hordaland, Sør-and Nord-Trøndelag. The Tribunal offers conflict solving carried out within a short frame of time and at a low economic cost. The lawyers at the Tribunal are specialised in the Tenancy Acts and conflict management.
The Tribunal can offer both settlements and decisions. Both landlords and tenants can raise a case about residential property for the Rent Disputes Tribunal. The person making the complaint must pay a case processing fee in advance that corresponds to the basic court fee, presently 860 NOK. The parties will first be offered mediation. If an agreement is reached, the case can be closed and the parties given assistance to set up a contract. If the mediation does not arrive at an agreement, the case will be settled by a lawyer accompanied by two tribunal members from respectively a tenant and a landlord association. Mediated results and settlements have the same legal effect as a court judgment unless the case is brought before the district court within a time limit of one month.
Cases on residential property arising in Oslo, Akershus, Hordaland, Sør- and Nord-Trøndelag are to be brought before the Rent Disputes Tribunal as the first line of court handling. In other areas of the country, cases must be brought before the municipal court of conciliation. The Rent Disputes Tribunal also provide general information to the public in it's area of expertise.
The Rent Disputes Tribunal has offices in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim.
Please see http://www.htu.no/no/englishhtu for more information.