Rental housing in Finland
In Finland, many people live in rental housing. The upside of renting is that switching flats is easy, as you do not have to sell your old home and buy a new one. On the other hand, your landlord may decide to terminate your lease if he or she has an acceptable reason for doing so. In such an eventuality, you will be forced to move out of your flat even if you would not wish to.
There is important information on the InfoFinland page Tenancy agreement about giving notice, paying rent, the deposit and other costs in a rental home.
It is often difficult to find a suitable flat for rent in the largest cities, where the rents are also higher.
Reserve enough time for finding a flat. Some areas are extremely popular and any vacant flats are rented very quickly. When you have found a suitable place, you should quickly decide whether to rent it or not.
According to Finnish law, a landlord choosing a tenant must not discriminate against anyone on the basis of factors such as ethnic origin, religion or nationality.
Read more on the InfoFinland page Equality and non-discrimination.
Who can rent a dwelling in Finland?
In Finland, lessors usually require that you have a good credit history and income or funds to pay the rent. Kela’s benefits also count as income. You should also be prepared to prove your identity.
Some lessors may also require that you have registered your right of residence in Finland or have a residence permit valid for at least one year. You may also be required to have a Finnish personal identity code.
Read more on the personal identity code on the page Registering as a resident.
How can I get a rental flat?
You can look for advertisements online. Use ”vuokra-asunto” as the search term. Flats are also often advertised in local newspapers.
If you are a citizen of Finland or another EU country or have a residence permit for at least one year, you can also apply for state-subsidised rental housing (ARA housing). Housing is rented out, for example, by municipal housing companies.
Private rental housing
You can usually find a privately rented flat quicker than a municipal one, but the rent will generally be higher.
You do not need to use an agent to look for a flat. You can look for information on vacant flats yourself. In that case you do not need to pay a commission (välityspalkkio).
You can look for private rental flats online and in local newspapers. You can also publish your own wanted ad.
If you wish to rent a private flat, contact the landlord to agree on a date to inspect the flat. Showings are usually arranged for all interested parties simultaneously. At the showing, you will be given an application form. Complete the form if you are interested in renting the flat.
If you wish to have an agent look for a suitable rental flat, you must make an assignment agreement (toimeksiantosopimus) in writing with the agent. In this case you will have to pay a commission to the agent. Agree on the commission in writing in advance. The commission could be, for example, a month’s rent. Compare the commissions of various agencies in advance.
If you rent a private flat, sign a lease with the landlord. More information is available on the InfoFinland page Rental agreements.
Municipal rental housing
Many municipalities own rental homes. They are often cheaper than other rental homes. Rental homes owned by municipalities are usually built with a state subsidy. This means that they are ARA homes.
You can apply for state-subsidised rental housing if you have one of the following:
- Finnish citizenship,
- a registered right of residence,
- a residence permit card,
- a residence permit which is valid for at least 12 months, or
- a student’s residence permit.
If you would like to apply for a municipal rental flat, complete the application form at your municipality's housing agency. Many municipalities also offer online forms on their websites.
In some municipalities, rental flats are so sought-after that you will be forced to wait a very long time for a home. For example, in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa), rental flats have many applicants. Meanwhile, many smaller municipalities in various parts of Finland have vacant flats.
The following factors are taken into account when choosing tenants:
- housing requirement
ARA homes are meant for people with limited funds who need housing quickly. Municipalities can also have rental homes other than those built with a state subsidy.
Many non-profit organisations offer affordable rental housing in Finland.
Students can apply for student housing, which is normally cheaper than other alternatives. Read more on the InfoFinland page Student housing.
The housing application and its appendices
When you file a housing application, you may be required to enclose other documents with it, depending on the party offering the flat. The following appendices may be required:
- your latest payslip
- a copy of your taxation decision, indicating your assets
- loan certificates
- a copy of your residence permit or passport if you are not a citizen of the EU
Applicants are also frequently subjected to a credit check.
Finnish Competition and Consumer AuthorityRenting housingLink redirects to another website
Ministry of the EnvironmentInformation on rental accommodationLink redirects to another website
The Consumers' Union of FinlandRental guideLink redirects to another website
In Finland, most landlords require you take out home insurance when you rent a home. Home insurance covers, for example, damage to your furniture and other articles. You should ask for a quote from several insurance companies. Keep your insurance policy active for the entire duration of your stay in the home.
Furnishings in rental homes
The equipment of a rental home almost always includes kitchen cupboards, a refrigerator and a stove.
Furthermore, wardrobes and hall cabinets usually belong to the equipment of a home. A shower, faucets and a toilet are always part of the furnishings.
In Finland, the equipment of a rental home does not normally include furnishings. However, some homes are also rented with furnishings. The equipment included in a furnished home varies. Always check with the landlord what exactly the equipment includes.
Pets in rental dwelling
In Finland, you are allowed to keep a pet in a rental dwelling if it is not prohibited in the tenancy agreement. You are responsible for keeping the dwelling in good condition. If your pet causes damage, you must compensate for it to the lessor.
However, some lessors do not allow pets. Discuss this with the lessor well in advance before you sign the tenancy agreement.
In Finland, domestic waster has to be sorted into different waste bins. Read more on the InfoFinland page Waste management and recycling.
Do you need advice on renting a flat?
The Consumers' Union of Finland offers advice and guidance for both tenants and landlords.
Consumers’ Union of Finland counselling service:
tel. 09 454 22 130
Mon 14:00–16:00, Tue–Fri 11:00–13:00 and Tue 17:00–19:00
The service is available everywhere in Finland for a local call charge.
The Consumers' Union also has an online form for submitting your questions, which will be answered by email.
Housing advice for immigrants is also provided by the Martha Organization and the Finnish Refugee Council.
Consumers' AssociationAdvice on matters concerning accommodationLink redirects to another website
The Martha OrganizationContact information for the Martha OrganizationLink redirects to another website
Rental listing vocabulary
It is a good idea to learn some Finnish-language abbreviations that are commonly used in Finnish rental listings.
- vuokra (€/kk): rent (euros per month)
- vakuus, vuokratakuu: security deposit
- h: room
- kph: bathroom (includes a toilet and shower, sometimes also a washing machine)
- k, avok, kuk: kitchen, open-concept kitchen, kitchenette (includes a fridge and stove, sometimes also a dishwasher and a microwave oven)
- vh, et, oh, s: walk-in closet, hall, living room, sauna
- rakennusvuosi: year when the house was built
- asuinpinta-ala: size of the apartment in square metres
- kerros: floor on which the apartment is located
- vesimaksu: monthly fee for water consumption