Support to tenants
The Icelandic Consumers’ Association operates a Tenants’ Support under a service level agreement with the ministry of social affairs. The role of the Tenants’ Support is primarily to provide information, assistance, and advice to tenants on rent-related matters, free of charge.
The Tenants Support’s legal team answers questions and provides guidance when tenants need to seek their rights. If an agreement cannot be reached between the tenant and landlord, the tenant can get help with the next steps, for instance, with taking the case before the housing complaints committee.
Tenants can contact us through e-mail (ns[at]ns.is) or by calling 545 1200 during the service’s phone hours – between 12:30 and 15:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tenants can also book an interview with one of the Tenants’ Support’s lawyers.
Tenants can bring any rent-related questions to the Tenants’ Support, including questions concerning the signing of a lease agreement, rights and obligations during the lease term, and the settlement at the end of tenancy.
Below are some frequently asked questions with answers:
Notice of termination
- Can a lease agreement be terminated without a reason?
That depends on the type of agreement. In case of temporary lease agreements, the principal rule is that they should be allowed to expire. There are exceptions to that rule, for instance, if the tenant and landlord have both agreed to a different arrangement, or if a special clause on termination is included in the agreement. In case of permanent lease agreements, they can be terminated without providing any reason. Both parties are nonetheless bound by the statutory notice period, or, if applicable, the contractual notice period, i.e. the notice period negotiated between the parties. If the contractual notice period is shorter than the statutory notice period, the tenant is not bound by the former, as tenants’ right to the statutory notice period cannot be infringed.
Maintenance of rental property
- Who is responsible for the maintenance of rental property?
In principle, the landlord is responsible for maintaining the property. Exceptions to that are minor maintenance responsibilities such as changing fire detector batteries, cleaning drains and changing light bulbs. The parties can negotiate another arrangement in the lease agreement, for instance, that the tenant takes on more maintenance responsibilities, such as agreeing to paint at the end of tenancy. Any such additional maintenance responsibilities for the tenant must be included in the lease agreement.
- For how long can a landlord withhold the security deposit?
Landlords often request some insurance from tenants at the start of tenancy. The purpose of the insurance is to protect the landlord from any potential damages caused by the tenant to the property during the tenancy. This insurance can be in the form of a bank guarantee, a third-party insurance, or a deposit that the landlord reserves. The landlord determines which method is used, but the tenant can refuse to pay a deposit directly into the landlord’s account, provided that the tenant offers some other insurance that is acceptable to the landlord. After the property has been returned, the landlord has four weeks to inspect the property and submit a claim to the insurance or guarantee. The claim must be submitted in writing. If the landlord does not submit a claim within four weeks, they must return the tenant’s security deposit, with accrued interest. Where the insurance is in the form of a bank guarantee, that guarantee expires after four weeks.
- Is the landlord allowed to increase the rent?
Rental prices can be fixed, or they can be index-linked. If the rental price is index-linked, it can be subject to contractual changes during the rental period, without special consent from the tenant. If the rental price is fixed, the landlord cannot change it without the tenant’s consent. Rental prices are often changed at the renewal of temporary lease agreements. Tenant and landlord are free to renegotiate the terms when a lease is renewed.