Living in Rental Housing in Finland
Renting an apartment abroad can be challenging. Renting an apartment from a city where every fifth oncoming person is a student in the fall time when all the students are bursting into town may sound like a mission impossible but is – actually – doable.
For the most parts, Finns are sincere and trustworthy people and we have good legislation in Finland to protect the rights of both tenant and landlord/-lady. Problems may occur if you’re not familiar with the legislation and don’t know your rights.
As always there might be someone trying to take advantage of you so using your common sense is advised whenever renting an apartment from the private markets. Here are a few tips on how to spot the suspicious rent offers and avoid the fishy landlords/-ladies as well as what to do if you come across a situation like these.
Top 3 tips for renting
1. Always make a written lease agreement
To avoid any conflicts it’s a tenant’s right for a proper written lease agreement when renting an apartment, though a spoken contract is considered as legitimate as a written one.
The agreement should define who is the renter and who is the landlord/-lady, what is the amount of rent paid, at what day of the month and to what account it should be paid. It’s not generally recommended to pay the rent in cash as you don’t get any receipt from it and can be tricked again to pay the rent twice. The agreement should also define how long the lease is on: for further notice or for a certain period of time. Also other specific matters, such as is the tenant allowed to have pets in the apartment, should be in the lease. These terms and conditions can be changed only by making a new contract in which both parties write their names to.
2. Never pay any money before you have a written lease agreement
As said before, Finns are considered to be trustworthy people but it’s always possible that someone may try to take advantage of you. To avoid this do not pay any money for an apartment having a written lease agreement. Being able to check the apartment at the scene isn’t a bad idea either. This way you don’t end up losing your money for a scam. If the landlord/-lady isn’t willing to have a lease agreement or to show you the apartment there might be something fishy about it and your alarm bells should be turned on.
3. It’s okay to turn down unconventional rental agreements
As it has happened, but very rarely, some landlords/-ladies have had unconventional rental agreements which some had made the renters feel uncomfortable. The case might be that an old lady rents a room from her detached house and ask for low rent if the renter is willing to help her by shoveling some snow in the winter time. Sometimes the requests have been more disturbing. Whichever the case might be, you as a tenant have the right to decline these kinds of requests.
Useful webpages to help you
Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority – KKV
A legally mandated authority that gives information e.g. living in rental housing in Finland
Expat Finland – Renting an apartment or a house in Finland
Guide with useful tips about legalities and regulations regarding renting in Finland
The webpage of the city of Jyvskylä
Other forums to look for an apartment if using JYY’s Apartment Forum doesn’t pay off