It is a good idea to plan ahead when it comes to searching for and moving to a new home. It is also worth giving careful consideration to the rent you can afford to pay when applying for an apartment. Also think about the kind of conditions you put in your housing application. Placing too strict conditions will make it difficult to obtain accommodation. The location of the apartment will have a significant effect on the rental level.
Find out first
- The rent to pay and size of the apartment. Find an apartment that suits your ability to pay and your living circumstances.
- The social insurance institution of Finland, Kela, will provide you with information on the possibilities of receiving housing and income support. The amount of benefit support available can be viewed using calculators at https://www.kela.fi/web/en/calculators. A level of rent that is considered reasonable will affect the granting of the support given.
- Finding an apartment can be challenging if you set a lot of conditions for the apartment you are looking for. The location of the apartment affects the rent to pay and apartments in the centre are more expensive. Also consider other apartment expenses, such as water, electricity and home insurance.
- If you have outstanding rental arrears, make a repayment plan / payment plan for debt collection to a national enforcement authority or to the property owner. A housing payment default entry on your credit record makes it significantly more difficult to obtain accommodation.
- You should be careful if the price level of the rental apartment feels very low. Find out from the property owner why the price is so affordable.
- Beware of fake online ads for rental housing – do not pay a security deposit until you have verified the existence of the apartment and preferably also visited it.
- If, for example, a facade or plumbing renovation is underway at a residential property, find out what the rent will be after the renovation. Also check with the property owner about the timetable and extent of future or planned renovations.
- Find out which form of heating is used in the apartment. Electric heating is a big extra expense in accommodation.
- It is a good idea to ask if parking spaces are available if you own a car.
Searching for an apartment
- The first thing to do is to make a housing application. Usually, you can apply for housing online. Some rental companies also have paper application forms. It is worth sending the application to as many property owners as possible.
- After submitting the housing application, ask the property owner about the housing situation.
- An application for housing is usually only pending for a limited period. Please check the deadline when applying and remember to renew your application if you are still looking for accommodation after the deadline.
- You can search for private sector accommodation online and in newspapers. Those offering rental accommodation are listed here: https://www.vaasa.fi/en/living/housing-and-construction/housing/rental-apartments/
- If you need help filling in housing applications, contact your housing counsellor.
Accommodation offers and rental guarantees
- You should always take an accommodation offer in writing. Please review the accommodation offer / rental contract carefully to know where the contract binds you. A fixed-term rental contract can only be made in writing. An electronic contract is also a written contract.
- The property owner often requires a rent guarantee. This provides the property owner with protection against damage in situations where the tenant fails to meet their obligations, e.g., fails to pay rent. The rent guarantee usually corresponds to 1 to 2 months’ rent (maximum 3 months). A rent guarantee must never be handed over to a property owner before inspecting the apartment and signing the rental contract!
- If the move is necessary, but you cannot afford to pay the rent guarantee, Kela can provide a rent guarantee and a grant for moving costs under certain conditions. Kela’s website provides information on reasonable housing costs, rent guarantees and relocation costs: https://www.kela.fi/toimeentulotuki-asumismenot https://www.kela.fi/toimeentulotuki-vuokravakuudet
- The rent guarantee is issued from Kela as a commitment and is not paid in cash to the account of the applicant or property owner. Attach a written rental agreement to Kela’s application.
- It is a good idea to distinguish between a rent guarantee and a security deposit. A security deposit is provided to secure the fulfilment of all obligations related to a tenancy, while a rent guarantee can only be used to secure unpaid rent. It is a good idea to record in the rental contract that the security deposit will be provided to meet all your obligations under the rental contract.
- The security deposit must be returned to the counterparty without delay and in full at the end of the rental period if there are no outstanding obligations.
- A rental contract is either a fixed-term or non-fixed term contract. A fixed-term rental contract expires without separate measures when the term specified in the contract expires. An rental contract, which is valid until further notice, will be terminated through the procedure for terminating the contract.
- A rental contract must be made in writing. If the rental contract of an apartment intended for permanent residence has not been made in writing, the agreement is considered as being valid until further notice.
- If a fixed-term lease of no more than three months is agreed on with the same tenant more than twice consecutively, the lease shall be considered a non-fixed-term lease notwithstanding the fixed-term provision.
- It is advisable to check the condition of the apartment when concluding the rental agreement. In this case, the condition of the apartment is reviewed together and the findings on the condition of the apartment are recorded. It is also good to take photos. This is in the interests of both parties.
- Both parties must provide reliable identification. In addition, the property owner must state the basis of their right to rent the apartment. According to the law, the property owner has the right to check a tenant’s credit information.
- The rental contract must be clear and unambiguous. The rental contract must also state all the terms you have agreed. If the terms are changed during the contract, the change must be recorded in all copies of the contract. This can be done, for example, with a separate appendix.
- The rental contract must list all the appendices that you want to be part of the contract; such as a list of furniture and a condition assessment. Appendices must not conflict with the law or good rental practice.
Termination of a rental contract
- If a property owner terminates your rental contract, the notice period is three months if you have lived in your current apartment for less than a year. The notice period is six months if the tenancy has lasted at least a year. The property owner’s notice of termination must state the reason for the termination and the date of termination of the contract.
- A fixed-term rental contract expires at the end of the term, unless otherwise agreed.
- If the tenant terminates the contract, the notice period is one month. No grounds for termination are required.
- Normally, the notice period is calculated from the last day of the calendar month in which the notice is given: for example, if the notice is given on 17 January, the contract expires on the last day of February.
- According to the law, the lease must be terminated in writing and the notice of termination must be provided to the recipient with proof. An electronic notice also fulfils the written requirement if its content cannot be changed and the notice can be saved.
- Proof of delivery means that receipt of the notice of termination can be confirmed. Thus, a mere e-mail sent is not valid, nor is a registered letter or a message dropped from a mailbox. Proof of delivery regarding a notice of termination is provided if the recipient acknowledges receipt or a third-party witness acknowledges receipt. A notice of termination sent as a registered letter will also suffice if the recipient acknowledges receipt of the letter.
Duties and responsibilities of the tenant
- Even if the rental contract does not cover taking out an insurance policy, it is always advisable for the tenant to have home insurance!
- When renting an apartment, a sufficient number of keys must be handed over to the tenant. When moving out, all keys, including those ordered by the tenant, must be returned to the property owner.
- The tenant is not responsible for the normal wear and tear of a residential apartment, unless otherwise agreed in the rental contract. Typical wear and tear is considered to be caused when attaching paintings and mirrors to walls and shading caused by furniture on the floor.
- Spouses: cohabitees and persons in a marital relationship who live together are liable for the obligations of the tenant, even if the rental contract is in the name of one party only.
- Sharing an apartment: If you live with a friend in a shared apartment, it is a good idea to make a separate rental contract for each resident so that you do not have to take responsibility for the friend’s rent arrears, for example.
- Check your obligations before signing a rental contract!