Riksbyggen's form of association (a "co-operative economic association" according to Swedish legislation) is compatible with internationally-accepted definitions for co-operative associations.
Trade unions and popular organisations and housing associations linked to Riksbyggen's activities can become members of Riksbyggen by acquiring shares in Riksbyggen. Riksbyggen is independent of the state and organisations other than member organisations.
How it began
There was a chronic housing shortage in 1940 at the same time as large numbers of building workers were unemployed. No one dared to invest and the means for implementing a public housing policy had not been developed.
Someone had to start if any houses were to be built, so the building workers unions took the initiative themselves and established Riksbyggen. The first housing association was registered in 1941 in Gothenburg on the Swedish west coast. Today, there are some 1,700 housing associations.
Since its creation Riksbyggen has developed from concentrating exclusively on construction into an all-sided service company involved in building, property management and residential services. Over the years we have been responsible for about a tenth of the housing built in Sweden.
Over half a million people live in dwellings managed by Riksbyggen. Many people save in Riksbyggen's savings association and are then given priority to housing built by us.
In its most basic sense, “trygghet” means security, but it is far more nuanced than that. “in trygghet, there is an element of predictability, and an element of comfort and safety. It has all of these meanings, and the effect has a softness.”
Some 20,000 people hold positions of responsibility throughout Sweden in Riksbyggen's membership organisations:
1,707 housing associations, 35 delegate bodies, with a co-ordinating role for the housing associations, 30 local associations - voluntary organisations, consisting of local union organisations and popular organisations, Riksbyggen's democratic structures - The Council and the Board.
Members are primarily involved in organisational matters and committee work, study programmes, meetings, recreational activities, and opinion-building.
Riksbyggen has approximately 3,000 employees. Each regional office has building and property management resources locally. There are a number of site offices and service bureaux closely connected with our residential areas, and responsible mainly for property management.
Riksbyggen has access to specialists for all services required by a builder for carrying out new construction, rebuilding or repairs. Technicians, administrators and accountants carry out project management, supervise building works, property matters, loans, grants and calculations, purchasing, building management and inspection etc.
Riksbyggen usually acts as agent for the actual builder and client, for instance, the housing association or a municipally-owned housing company.
80 per cent of Riksbyggen's staff work directly or indirectly with property management - financial and technical management, planning maintenance and property services. The financial services available consist of three main areas: accounting, bookkeeping and legal matters and liaison with public authorities.
The technical administrative services available consist, of liaison with the boards of the housing associations, and the residents, personnel administration and supervision, insurance, regular maintenance, purchasing etc. Included in our caretakers' responsibilities are tending gardens, cleaning, minor repairs, maintaining heating and ventilation facilities among many other duties. Riksbyggen also works with energy conservation at all stages of the construction process: energy inspections and developing programmes of action, proving, thermography, operation and monitoring, production and sale of heating etc.
Riksbyggen aims to promote co-operative ideas through its own activities and by working together in Sweden and internationally with organisations supporting co-operative developments.
Unlike many other countries, there is no overall co-ordination of the co-operative movement in Sweden. Collaboration, however, takes place at many levels: between Riksbyggen and the other co-operative organisations, in promoting and developing the co-operative idea as well as in purely commercial relations between organisations.
Riksbyggen - a co-operative economic association
A co-operative economic association is the concept in Swedish law defining and regulating business activities carried out in co-operative or closely related forms. The Economic Associations Act may be regarded as the Swedish equivalent of the various forms of legislation regulating co-operative activities in many other countries.
A housing association is a co-operative association normally consisting of between 20 and 100 or so apartments (tenant-owner apartments) built together or as detached units in a defined geographical area.
The members (the residents in the tenant-owned housing) own a share of the housing association which in turn owns the housing. The members are free to sell their share and thus their tenantship rights on the open market.
When Riksbyggen builds and establishes a housing association, the shares are first offered to the members of Riksbyggen's home saving scheme, who can in that way find a place to live. When all the shares have been taken up, the association becomes fully independent, but usually retains its link with Riksbyggen by acquiring one or more shares in Riksbyggen, entrusting Riksbyggen with responsibility for the management of the association and its resources.
Housing associations in Sweden are subject to special legislation, the Housing Association Act, which may be regarded as being a special further development of the Co-operative Economic Associations Act for this purpose.
Companies or organisations (sometimes Riksbyggen) which are responsible for planning, administration and finance during the period of construction. The builder may in turn appoint sub-contractors to carry out building work. Riksbyggen usually appoints contractors for all its building work and consequently does not have its own production apparatus.