Rental accommodation in Finland
Living in rented accommodation
The purpose of the following materials is to provide you with the most important basic information you need to know about living in a rented accommodation in Finland. The guidelines do not go into detail and the materials do not explain all the aspects of legislation that concerns renting accommodation. The guide is a compilation of the most essential factors concerning living in rented accommodation.
Due to its flexibility and security, living in a rented accommodation is a very popular style of living in Finland. For instance, in Helsinki living in a rented accommodation is more commonplace (47.7%) than owner-occupied accommodation (41.7%). And the popularity of rented accommodation is on the rise.
Rents in Finland are not regulated so prices on the rental market are determined according to supply and demand. However, renting accommodation is regulated by a law whose provisions are more coercive than normal legislation. Legislation is the means for strengthening the position of the tenant and preventing the formulation of terms of agreement that are unreasonable from the perspective of the tenant. Legislature has made living in rented accommodation an extremely secure option.
Available rented accommodation ranges from small one-roomed apartments to detached houses. Dwellings that are situated in the most popular areas, and which come on to the market, are rented out extremely quickly. When you find a suitable home to your liking, you need to make your decision without wasting any time. Homes in Finland are generally somewhat smaller than those in several other European countries. Northern climatic conditions and cold winters call for specialized expensive measures in building technology, heat insulation and materials. A smaller surface area also cuts back on building and heating costs for homes. Building construction in Finland is of extremely high quality.
Unfurnished accommodation in Finland
Most rented homes in Finland are unfurnished. When you go to visit your prospective rented accommodation, it is important to know what fittings and equipment belong to the accommodation and what the current tenants will take with them when they move out. The fittings and equipment in rented accommodation always include the kitchen cabinets, refrigerator and cooker. If there is a dishwasher, it may be included in the fittings and equipment belonging to the accommodation but not necessarily so, at least not in smaller dwellings; therefore, you need to check this matter out. A microwave oven is generally considered as being included in the fittings and equipment belonging to the accommodation, and therefore will remain there, if it has been permanently installed in a kitchen cabinet.
Clothes closets and the cupboards in the hall are generally included in the fittings and equipment that belong to the accommodation. Bathroom fittings are also part of the permanent fittings and equipment but you should always ascertain separately whether the washing machine is included. The shower, taps and WC are always included in the fittings and equipment that belong to the accommodation. The lessor is responsible for repairing machines and equipment that belong to the rented accommodation, and replacing them if necessary, provided that the tenant has not used them in a manner contrary to their instructions for use.
Rented accommodation in Finland may also be furnished. The term “furnished” may refer to a completely furnished home that includes the bedlinen and dishware, in other words, it has everything that you need for living. However, “furnished” can also mean that there is furniture in the accommodation so it is up to the tenant to acquire all the practical equipment necessary for daily life. The term “furnished accommodation” may also refer to something between these two examples, so you always need to check exactly what the furnishings include.
From the international perspective, Finland is a safe country in which to live and move around in. For instance, there is no need for security staff in apartment block lobbies, even in the largest of cities.
Condition and maintenance of apartment blocks
Apartment blocks are clean and they are maintained in good condition. The housing companies are responsible for cleaning areas exterior to the apartments, such as the yard, stairwells and corridors. Tenants are responsible for cleanliness inside their accommodation.
Housing companies often have a long-term agreement with a maintenance company or caretaker concerning technical maintenance on the property and clearing the snow in winter. It is wise to ascertain thoroughly whether any extensive renovations are planned for the building to which you intend to move before renting accommodation. Extensive renovations may cause substantial disturbance to your living comfort and in the worst scenario, may even necessitate vacating the apartment altogether for several months during the period of renovation. Giving careful thought to this matter will prevent unpleasant surprises.
Housing companies have rules of order, which all the residents must observe. The rules are drawn up to ensure the well-being of residents in the building. They generally prohibit such things as playing music loudly at night and they often include guidelines concerning the use of communal areas and facilities.
Condition and maintenance of a rented dwelling
Before moving in, the tenant and the lessor establish the condition of the apartment together. Correspondingly, a final inspection is conducted when the tenant is due to move out. The tenant is responsible for surrendering the apartment in a condition similar to that when the rental agreement began, excepting for normal wear and tear from usage. In other words, the tenant is responsible for taking due care of the apartment. In Finland, we do not wear shoes inside our homes. Wooden floors are easily damaged.
The tenant should notify the lessor immediately of any possible faults or defects that appear. If the fault or defect is the responsibility of the lessor, the lessor is duty bound to rectify the said fault or defect within a reasonable time. If the fault causes the tenant undue disturbance, the lessor must take remedial measures without delay. The lessor is responsible for ensuring that the accommodation is in the agreed state. The tenant does not have the right to carry out alteration work or renovations in the accommodation without the permission of the lessor.
The alternatives are a fixed-term rental agreement or a rental agreement valid until further notice. A rental agreement valid until further notice continues until the tenant or the lessor terminates it. Thus, an agreement, that is valid until further notice, is a more flexible form of agreement and an ideal option when the duration of occupancy is unclear beforehand. In a fixed-term rental agreement, the date of commencement and the date of expiration of the agreement are both agreed. A fixed-term agreement automatically expires on the agreed date without separate termination. The fixed term is binding on both parties; in other words, such an agreement cannot be terminated during the period of agreement. A fixed-term rental agreement is an appropriate option when the tenant knows with certainty that he or she will need the accommodation for the entire specified period.
Termination of a rental agreement
The period of notice for a rental agreement, that is valid until further notice, is regulated by Finnish law. The period of notice given by the tenant is always one month. The period of notice given by the lessor is three months for a rental agreement that has lasted less than one year, and six months for a rental agreement that has lasted more than one year. Notification of notice must be given in writing and delivered verifiably to the lessor. The period of notice starts from the end of the month in which the notice was given, unless otherwise agreed.
A fixed-term rental agreement cannot be terminated during the period of agreement. A court of law may grant the tenant the right to terminate a fixed-term rental agreement on special grounds but this is extremely rare. In such an instance, the court also stipulates the amount of compensation that the tenant must pay the lessor for the premature termination of the agreement.
Rent is payable once a month. The due date for rent payment is always the second weekday (working day) of the month, unless otherwise agreed. Rent cannot be paid using a credit card. Rent is payable by bank transfer to the bank account specified by the lessor in the rental agreement. No separate invoice for the rent amount is sent; rather, the tenant is responsible for taking the initiative to pay the rent in accordance with the rental agreement.
In addition to the actual rent, the tenant is generally responsible for covering the costs of other living expenses. The water fee is usually determined according to the number of people living in the accommodation. It is usually specified in the rental agreement in the following manner: €15/person/month. The charge may also be calculated based on water consumption, in which case there will be a water metre fitted in the accommodation. The water charge is payable in conjunction with the rent to the lessor’s bank account.
The tenant is obliged to take out home insurance for the rented accommodation from a Finnish insurance company; the insurance company invoices the tenant when payment is due.
The tenant is obliged to make an electricity agreement with the regional electricity company, which directly invoices the tenant. In apartment blocks, commonly invoiced fees include payment for using the sauna and communal laundry facilities and for the allocated parking space. These fees are usually payable directly to the housing company. The tenant of a detached house may well also be responsible for covering the costs for heating and waste disposal. He or she also assumes responsibility for caring for the yard and for the sidewalk in front of the house.
Rental agreements in Finland almost always involve payment of collateral (i.e. rent security deposit). The tenant pays the collateral to the lessor by the date agreed in the rental agreement. The collateral may vary in amount according to the accommodation but at most, it corresponds to three months rent. The most common amount is a sum corresponding to two months rent. The collateral may be deposited at a bank or it may be payable to the lessor’s bank account. The keys to the accommodation are generally handed over to the tenant upon receipt of the collateral. The final inspection of the accommodation is conducted when the rental agreement reaches conclusion. If the tenant has taken good care of the accommodation and handled all of his or her financial liabilities, the lessor is obliged to refund the collateral immediately. It is important to be aware that the collateral may not be used as rent payment for the final months of the agreement.
Change of address
The tenant is responsible for submitting the change of address notification to the housing company and local register offices.