Finnish Housing, Conditions & Utilities
Remember: When you move, Finnish law requires you to register your new address. See Address & Postal Services
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- Heating and District Heating
- Housing Companies & Shares
- Utilities and Setting Up Your Home
- Furnishing Your Home
- Conditions Of Residence
- Related Links
General Information on Finnish Housing
Home ownership rates are high; approximately two-thirds of Finland's housing stock consists of owner-occupied homes. Apartments and houses, particularly in the Helsinki area, may be considered small by western standards. Rental apartments are difficult to come by in Helsinki and increasingly expensive, with rent levels being as much as 30-40% higher than in other parts of the country.
Houses and apartments in Finland are generally high quality. They are well insulated with double glazing as a minimum, triple glazing as standard and quadruple or even quintuple glazing becoming more common. Homes are well heated in winter and there is no need for stand-alone heaters. Over 90% of Finnish apartment blocks, more than half of all terraced houses, and the bulk of public buildings and business premises are connected to a district heating network. If you are renting a dwelling with district heating, it is part of the rental agreement and not an additional cost.
District heating supplies heat from a central source directly to buildings through a network of pipes carrying hot water. This means the buildings do not need to generate their own heat on site.
Radiators are not operational all year; they come on during the cold season. If your hot-water radiators don't seem to be working properly in September-October, the building probably isn't yet in 'full heating mode'. That's normal, and the radiators should get hotter shortly. If the temperature in your apartment falls below 20°C there's a problem. If you hear bubbles, there's air in the system. Don't bleed it yourself unless you know what you're doing. Call your building manager (isännöitsijä) and they'll sort it out pronto!
Tip: At the beginning of the cold season, turn the heater valves all the way on and off a few times. It may clear any blockage which occurred over the warm season.
In Finland, when you "buy an apartment" what you are usually actually buying are shares in a housing company (asunto-osakeyhtiö) - more commonly known in English as a housing cooperative. The amount of shares per apartment is proportional to the size of the apartment.
A housing company is a legal entity that owns one or more residential buildings. Owning shares in a housing company, corresponding to "one apartment", is basically considered as much "owning your own home" in Finland as actually owning a single family house. The housing company is owned and managed by the residents. The obligation to ensure proper maintenance of buildings and apartments is shared between the housing company and its shareholders.
Finnish housing companies are generally incorporated as non-profit, limited-liability companies. Because they own and perform maintenance of the doors, walls, pipes, windows and balconies, for example, they also make regulations about what residents can, or cannot do to the doors, walls, pipes, windows and balconies - housing company regulations are therefore wide-ranging, and occasionally considered frustrating. If you renovate your bathroom for example, inspection(s) will be carried out by a housing company nominee to ensure that plumbing, electrical and insulation work meets the housing company's as well as EU standards.
Apartment owners are shareholders who can, and indeed should, participate in the housing company meetings which determine building, renovation and financial plans. Housing companies usually have outstanding loans which they have obtained for the purposes of performing building maintenance. These loans may affect your decision when buying an apartment.
No board approval is needed to buy shares (i.e. an apartment), which is usually done on the open property market through a real estate agent.
- Electricity can usually be connected in advance by simply calling the local electricity company in your new region and providing
them with your name and new address. This is the easiest way to get started.
Top Tip: The cost of electricity in Finland has two components; electricity sales and electricity distribution. When you first sign up with the local electricity company, they will be both your vendor and distributor. However, you can purchase electricity from any vendor operating in Finland who offers electricity to your region. You cannot choose the electricity distribution network. A month after I settled in I changed vendors for a saving of about €80 per year (50m² apartment, one person). I found the new vendor using the electricity price comparison site www.sahkovertailu.fi, which is in Finnish but you can work it out with Google Translate www.translate.google.com
- Phone: If you need a landline, inform the telephone company of your new address and a landline connection will be established
- Internet: Many apartments are already "wired" for broadband, and access may be included in your rent. Check the situation before you make other arrangements with an Internet Service Provider
- Insurance: It is a common requirement of lessors that tenants purchase insurance on rented accommodation. Contents insurance is reasonably priced and can be obtained from many insurance companies.
- Fire alarms: By Finnish law each residence must have a functioning fire alarm. Home insurance does not cover damage from a fire if the fire alarm was out of order prior to and during the fire, so keep the batteries fresh!
- Water is usually included in tenancy agreements, and sometimes in maintenance agreements. Check your agreement to see whether water bills are included, or whether they are payable separately each month. Finnish water is delicious!
- Barbecues: Some apartment buildings do not allow residents the summer fun of cooking on the balcony or terrace. I don't know of anyone who is allowed to barbecue with charcoal on the balcony, but some buildings allow electric barbecues - check your building regulations
- Ei Mainoksia: If you don't want to receive a barrage of advertising through your mail box every day, tape a small note on your letterbox saying Ei mainoksia, kiitos (No advertising, thanks). But don't make it too permanent - sometimes you'll probably want to get some advertising, as I'll explain in the Shopping section....
You've found your apartment - now you have to furnish it! If you don't want to buy a household full of furnishings, you can rent furniture and appliances from a furniture rental service and take care of everything at once, quickly and easily.
Furent: Tell Furent what you need and they'll arrange it for you, from a single appliance through to full furnishing - anywhere in Finland. You can select from Furent's supply of available furnishings and appliances, or specify your own choices and Furent will arrange them for you. Furent's service includes delivery and assembly, and pick-up when the rental period ends. Furniture rentals are available to private and corporate customers, short or long-term. All services are fully tailored to your needs and budget.
Prices are calculated case-by-case according to location, amount of furniture, and length of rental. As an idea, a fully furnished 1-bedroom apartment for two people for 12 months starts at about 200€ per month.
Become familiar with the housing company regulations for your building; these will include such things as permissible hours for power tools, whether you can have a barbecue on your balcony etcetera.
- Sauna: The landlord or building management can book you a regular time to use the sauna in the building. You can also join the communal sauna! Usually a ladies' sauna and a men's sauna once a week
- Laundry rooms: To use the laundry room in the building you must book a time; the reservation books are usually in the laundry itself, just sign yourself up
- Parking: You can usually sign an agreement with the landlord to have a parking spot, usually with power, allocated to you. It will usually entail an additional charge.
- Hazardous waste: Poisonous material, electrical waste, scrap electronics et cetera cannot be deposited in the waste containers of the property. Most supermarkets have collection boxes for old batteries. For the location of the nearest hazardous waste collection site please visit www.kierratys.info. En, Fi, Sw
- Satellite dish: You will need to find out whether the housing company regulations permit installation of a satellite dish.
- Infopankki.fi > English > Living in Finland > Housing: Information on most aspects of housing in Finland. Infopankki is available in 12 languages
- Finnish Consumer Authority > Buying, selling and making contracts > Housing: The Finnish Consumer Agency has a comprehensive Housing section En, Fi, Sw, Sa