Property management and maintenance in the multifamily housing sector in Sweden

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: Since the 1990s and in line with reforms in other countries in Europe, Sweden has experienced a shift in the property management of the housing stock within the rental sector. Furthermore, inefficiencies in Sweden’s rent-regulated housing market have contributed to making the tenant-owner cooperative (TOC) sector, in which decision making is in the hands of non-professionals, the fastest growing housing sector in Sweden. After signs that an increasing degree of property owners appeared to be neglecting housing maintenance, the Swedish government commissioned a report in 2002 to investigate maintenance needs in the housing sector with particular emphasis on multifamily housing within the stock constructed during the period 1965-1975. The results indicated that a large number of apartments built during the 1960s and 1970s require extensive refurbishment and there is concern that some tenant-owner cooperatives (TOCs) as well as some companies in the public rental housing sector may have difficulties carrying out the needed activities. The overall purpose of the thesis is to increase the understanding of the factors that influence the decisions made within the multi-faceted property management of multifamily housing in Sweden. The focus is mostly on aged properties especially those constructed during the period 1965-1975 as these are largely comparable over the sub-sectors.The thesis consists of five papers that present several studies carried out using various methodologies, i.e., econometric analysis, semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. The first two papers in the thesis critically evaluate the conceptual distinction between investment and maintenance as well as the maintenance planning models used in other industries with the aim of finding ways in which to raise efficiency within maintenance in the housing sector. The next two papers analyse the factors that influence the decisions made in relation to property management and maintenance within the rental housing and the tenant-owner cooperative housing sectors in Sweden. The fifth and last paper provides a study of how the organisation of property management and the decision-making structure in TOCs in Sweden facilitates or hampers the adoption of large-scale renewable energy measures in that housing sector. The results of the studies indicate that the concept of investment embraces all relevant decisions and that maintenance as a concept is irrelevant from a decision-making perspective (Paper I). They further indicate that models of maintenance planning in other industries can to some extent be applied to building maintenance. However building characteristics call for a strategy that allows for the continuous adjustment of maintenance plans based on a well maintained decision support system in the company or TOC (Paper II). How maintenance is defined as well as the timing of the maintenance measures that at times are changed due to principal-agency issues of a socio-political character are factors that could explain the divergence between posted maintenance costs within the municipal and the private rental sectors (Paper III). The studies further reveal that members of the governing committees in the TOC sector, who are non-professionals in property management, face challenges related to the lack of a long-term perspective in the decision-making due to various principal-agent related problems such as hidden incentives, a high turnover rate of committee members and information asymmetry that is exemplified by reworks due to construction faults especially in cooperatives with newly constructed buildings (Paper IV and V). Limitations in the research include endogeneity problems in general, and selection bias in particular, making it difficult in some cases to establish the degree of reliability and validity of the empirical results.The thesis has several implications for researchers, decision-makers, policy makers and the general public. It contributes to the view of maintenance as an investment; highlights the possibility of cost saving through the linking together of several measures and the challenges involved; shows the need within the housing sector for better decision support tools as well as knowledge transfer and sharing and calls for government to promote policies that would reduce the degree of information asymmetry between the procurers of services within the TOC sector and the construction companies as well as other service providers. As part of the policies directed towards energy efficiency and a sustainable environment further research could be focused on how to formulate a requirement of formal competence and certification in managing multifamily housing especially knowledge intensive installations for example those meant to provide innovative ways of energy efficiency such as passive house technology.Keywords: Property management, housing maintenance, maintenance planning, incentives; building applied photovoltaic system; tenant-owner, cooperative housing

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