A secure home is a key premise for the welfare of every family. Housing security for all Icelanders is the principal objective of public housing policy. This implies, among other things, measures to ensure a suitable supply of appropriate housing is available at all times to meet the varying needs, means and circumstances of the population, as well as providing financial support for those who need it.
Public administration of housing affairs is provided for in the Housing Act, No. 44/1998.
The Act established the Housing Financing Fund (HFF) to handle the administration and implementation of housing affairs on behalf of the Minister. Mortgages provided by HFF are restricted to serving its social role; it provides financing to municipalities, companies and NGOs for the construction or purchase of rental accommodation. HFF also handles the allocation of the state's initial contribution for the construction or purchase of rental homes, as provided for in Public Rental Dwellings Act No. 52/2016. The objective of these contributions is to promote a good supply of rental accommodation at affordable prices. HFF monitors housing needs throughout Iceland together with municipalities' estimates of local housing requirements.
Municipalities are responsible for resolving the housing needs of local residents who are incapable of doing so without assistance.
The Rent Act, No. 36/1994, lays down the rights and obligations of tenants and landlords of both residential and commercial properties.
The Consumers' Association of Iceland provides advice and assistance for tenants of residential housing under a service level agreement with the Ministry of Welfare. Services are provided free of charge to tenants at the Consumers' Association of Iceland, [email protected].
Tenants may be entitled to housing benefits under the Housing Benefit Act, No. 75/2016, aimed at reducing the housing costs of lower-income tenants. The Directorate of Labour is responsible for administering housing benefits, which can be applied for electronically on the website https://hms.is/husnaedisbaetur/husnaedisbaetur/reiknivel-husnaedisbota/ (Housing Benefits).
In addition to housing benefits to which tenants may be entitled under the Housing Benefit Act, Municipalities’ Social Services Act, No. 40/1991, provides for special housing support which municipalities are obliged to provide persons who are not able to secure homes for themselves due to low income, high cost of supporting dependants or other social circumstances.
The Housing Co-operatives Act, No. 66/2003, deals with the purpose and operation of such organisations, together with the rights and obligations of tenants and other members of housing co-operatives, as well as those of the organisation itself.