Apartment living in Finland
Housing Responsibilities and Rules
One thing you will probably notice when you come to Finland (the degree to which depends on your home country) is that Finns live in a highly ordered society. There are many rules and regulations, but they are intended for everyone’s wellbeing and to make our societal infrastructure as reliable as it is. So it goes without saying that when living in an apartment building in Finland, there will be rules that need to be followed as you are not the only person living there. Here are the most important:
- Do not put anything down the drain that does not belong there (such as oils, cooking fats, paper towels, or feminine hygiene products) as it may get stuck and clog the drain. However toilet paper should be flushed in Finland.
- Pay the rent on time. Not doing this can lead to eviction.
- Rental Contracts are legally binding!
- At AYY and HOAS, the contracts always start on the 1st of the month.
- Landlords and housing providers will ask you to pay a deposit before you move in. The deposit is usually the rent of one month, but it can be higher. At AYY the deposit is €250 and at HOAS €260 for shared apartments and €500 for family and studio apartments. If there is repairing or cleaning to be done after your stay, the landlord will usually reduce the cost of this from your deposit.
- If you have signed a fixed term rental contract (i.e. a contract for particular period agreed in the rental contract e.g. September 1st–December 31st) it cannot be terminated prematurely.
- If you have an open-ended contract (i.e. from 1.9.2013 onwards until you or the landlord terminate it according to the legal notice periods) you as tenant are able to terminate your rental agreement by giving one month’s notice (or however long it states in the contract). For example, if you intend to move out on May 31st, you must terminate your agreement on April 30th at latest. If you fail to do this on time you will end up paying the rent of the next month whether you live in your apartment or not.
- If the landlord terminates the rental agreement, they have to give 6 months’ notice in the case of a tenancy of at least one year. If the tenancy has lasted less than one year, the notice time is 3 months from the landlord’s side.
- The tenant is always responsible for any damage whether on purpose, by accident, or done by guests. Therefore keep the apartment in good condition.
- You must return the keys on the final day of your tenancy period or before.
- The building rules state that there are quiet hours in every apartment building between 22:00–7:00. Be respectful of your neighbours on all sides, by reducing the volume on everything from conversations to music after 22:00.
- Smoking is generally discouraged and it is strictly prohibited inside the buildings owned by AYY and HOAS. Private landlords can ban you for smoking indoors in the rental agreement. If you do not follow this condition you are responsible financially to compensate for damages (smells, etc).
- It is strongly recommended that you have a home insurance in Finland. It is also very common that landlords for private rental accommodation require tenants to have home insurance. However, in order to get a home insurance you must have a permanent residence permit and a Finnish social security number (see After arrival: Maistraatti).
How to recycle
Recycle as much as possible by sorting your waste. This has been made very easy in Finland. Every apartment building usually has their own garbage ‘house’ in the yard with separate waste bins for paper, cardboard, mixed waste, and bio-waste. Your landlord or housing provider gives more detailed instructions for recycling.
What to expect from rental room/apartment
In general rentals are in rather good condition in Finland, of course there might be some exceptions as everywhere. Most of the rentals are unfurnished. If you apply and get a room from either student housing organizations (HOAS or AYY), electricity, water and internet are usually included to the rent. Note that this is not the case when renting from private market.
- All apartments are heated, and the indoor temperature should be between 18 and 22 C° throughout the year. Heating is usually included in the rent.
- You should expect to have at least a fridge and stove with oven in the kitchen. It is not common to have a dishwasher or washing machine in the apartment.
- Ceiling lamps and other lighting are considered furniture so you may need to buy these as well.
- Law requires that every apartment has fire/smoke detectors and it is the tenant’s responsibility to get one and check that it works. (Usually there is one already, but make sure that it actually functions!)
- Every apartment building has a maintenance company and usually repairs (e.g. to do with adjusting heating, problems with plumbing which you cannot fix) are done rather quickly after you have made the notification. The maintenance company also takes care of the overall property in general, including yard and hallways.
Landlord does not have the right to enter to your room/apartment without a good reason, and without agreeing a time with you beforehand.
Living with others
For some people this will be the first time living away from home or living with other people (or people other than family members). This new situation can be made easier if you think about these things first:
- Remember that the shared apartment is a home for all of the tenants. To get the best of the communal living be friendly, be tidy, do not cause disturbances and do consider your roommates’ needs and wishes. This means that you will need to be flexible.
- Keep the apartment and/or your room tidy. Especially when you move out as the expected state of cleanliness can be strict.
- Create a schedule with your roommates for taking out the garbage and cleaning etc. (remember also to clean the fridge and oven).
Shared building facilities
Usually every apartment building has some commonly shared facilities such as sauna and a laundry room. Quite often, especially in AYY and HOAS properties there is also a so-called “clubroom” where you can, for example, meet other dwellers and arrange evening gatherings.
Usually there is a laundry room in the basement, which you have to book. It can cost, so check if there’s an extra charge and also check how you will need pay. If it is necessary to make a booking, you have a right to use the machine then, but you must follow the beginning and end time of your reservation.
You need to check the schedule, and usually book a time, for which there might be a fee. Information can usually be found outside the door to the sauna or in the hallway. A time marked as ‘Lenkkisauna’, means it is reserved for free use by all building residents, however with different common times allotted for women (naiset) and men (miehet).
Bikes are allowed to be kept in certain areas outdoors – locked to racks reserved for your building, or inside in a storage room, for which you need to use a key.