Housing is a personal matter | Open conversation

Kolbrún from the Renting Help Line and Joanna from New in Iceland met for an open conversation at Torgið in Grófin.
Both advise people about their rights and obligations. Recently the Renting Help Line took on a new role and now both advises landlords as well as tenants.
They are developing it´s services and have recently launched a new website: leigjendur.is/en

Access to housing is one of the main issues in the counseling sessions of New in Iceland. Kolbrún and Joanna agree that listening with an open mind and showing empathy and an effort to understand the circumstances of users are of pivotal importance in the counseling.
Kolbrún said:

Users seeking advice and ways to resolve their differences are often in distress – housing is a personal matter, it concerns our home and it should be a safe space.

Joanna also added:

People seeking advice at New in Iceland often feel they are on their own and no one is willing to help them, this feeling adds to their stress. Many feel they have been treated unfairly. Power relations are often disproportionate between landlords and tenants and this affects theyr communication. Experiences of counselors, the ability to speak many languages, and the will put yourself in someone else's shoes are key elements in advising people on their rights and obligations.

Access to housing is a matter of justice.
People come to New in Iceland to seek information on available rental housing, ask questions on what a fair rent is and what rights landlords have to raise the rent.
Kolbrún emphasizes:

It is very important that users know that their rights are not only secured in written contracts. Their rights and obligations are also secured in legislations like the Rent Act, even though there is no written agreement between a tenant and a landlord.

The counseling of New in Iceland as well as of the Renting Help Line also depends on the translation of laws and regulations for users who do not speak Icelandic. If these are not translated the access to information on rights is hindered.

Thank you for the conversation!

Further information on the Renting Help Line can be found here and on the services of New in Iceland on their webpage.

A new project as been launched on the safety of everyone living and staying in Iceland, both long term and short term residents. Further information on the project Home Safety can be found on the webpage: homesafety.is

At Torgið we regularly have open conversation on issues that concern our position in society and our rights as citizens in a democratic society. The next conversation is on 28th of October on Re-thinking cultural spaces s and Festa will also join us on the 9th of November to discuss sustainability and how we change your habits for a more sustainable future.

Do you have an idea for a new conversation the library? Send us a line, we are open to develop new conversations.

Further information:
Dögg Sigmarsdóttir
Project manager | Civic Participation

Wednesday October 20th 2021