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Housing

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Housing services - acquiring housing

Rental flats are available through various companies, the municipality and private landlords. The easiest way to find one is by contacting the municipal housing service. Usually, you will be asked to fill a flat application form out.

The advertisement for the rental flat usually has good information, as well as many pictures. You can also normally get to see the flat if you contact the landlord. Private landlords also often arrange general viewings where those looking for housing can arrive without contacting the landlord directly.

There may also be a queue for good housing and the landlord has the right to choose the tenants. For this reason, renting a flat from the municipal housing service is often faster.

The best way to find private home providers is at www.vuokraovi.com

Rent

Reserve enough time when looking for a rental place. Some areas are really popular. In these areas, flats are quickly rented out. Once you have found a suitable place, you should decide quickly if you want it.

Rent is paid for the flat every month. Usually the payment date is at the beginning of the month and the rent is paid from the month of residence in advance.

Once you have found a suitable rental place, make sure the rent is affordable. Note that in addition to rent, you may also have to pay for heating, electricity and water.

Rental security deposit

When you move to rent, the landlord requires a rent security deposit. The security deposit is a safeguard for the landlord that your rent will be paid on time and if you break something, he can get it fixed. The amount of the rent security deposit is usually the amount equivalent to one to three months of rent. A personal guarantee or a commitment received from Kela can in some cases be used as a security bond.

You can apply for rental insurance from Kela if you do not have your own income or savings. In order to obtain a rental guarantee from Kela, there must be a legitimate reason for the move. Kela – Rental security deposit.

When you move out of the flat, you can get the rental security deposit back if you paid for it yourself. The bond may not be fully refunded if the flat needs repairs or if you have not paid all the rent.

Kuluttajaliitto ry: Vuokraopas (pdf)suomi | ruotsi | englanti | venäjä | ranska | somali | arabia

Blue Ribbon Foundation: small vocabulary of housing and social security for someone who has moved to Finland FinnishArabicKurdishTigrinyaSwahili

This video in Finnish explains what the rental security deposit is and why it is needed:

Source: www.ovikoodi.fi

Tenancy agreement

When you move into a flat, a written agreement is signed. In it, the following is agreed:

  • rent and the due date for the payment of rent
  • rental insurance
  • other costs of housing (water, electricity, heating, sauna, a car place)
  • whether the lease is fixed or until further notice

A fixed term tenancy agreement refers to a pre-defined contract in time. If the contract is fixed, there may be a contractual fine in the contract. An agreement that is valid until further notice means an ongoing contract that can be terminated at the initiative of the tenant at any time in accordance with the agreed notice period.

The tenancy agreement also often includes housing guidelines on things like pets or smoking. Remember that the tenancy agreement is binding after signing the contract!

If you rent a house, you often need to pay separately for heating and waste management.

If you don’t understand the terms of the contract, don’t sign it.

 

The Finnish Landlord Association: Fair rental practices guide (pdf)

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TERMINATION OF TENANCY AGREEMENT

This video shows how the tenancy agreement is done and what things to consider when doing it.

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VUOKRASOPIMUKSEN TEKEMINEN

Source: the Finnish Refugee Council

Period of notice

The duration of the lease is usually either fixed or until further notice. A common contract type is valid for the time being. There is no end date in it and you can terminate the contract at any time.

However, the contract may contain a mention of the minimum length of the tenancy, usually it is 12 months.

When moving out of the flat, check the termination period of the contract. It will tell you how much earlier you need to give notice on the moving out to the landlord.

For example, if you want to move out of a flat on December 1, you need give notice no later than 31 October. If you don’t, you will also have to pay rent for December.

If you don’t comply by contract, you may not get your rental security deposit back.

Note that it is not always possible to terminate a fixed-term tenancy agreement until it expires. The fixed-term contract is valid for exactly that agreed period. However, in some cases, you can terminate a fixed-term contract, but then you will have to pay a contract fine.

When you are renting

MAINTENANCE COMPANY

The maintenance company ensures that the building stays in order by taking care of it.

In some housing companies, part of the maintenance may also belong to the residents. This is usually mentioned in the tenancy agreement.

Find out which building maintenance company your building uses. Contact information can usually be found on the bulletin board in the public areas.

You can call the maintenance company if something in your flat is broken. A maintenance company helps, for example, if the tap leaks.

Do not install large household appliances yourself, but resort to a professional. At least the installation of the washing machine, dishwasher and of lamps without a quick connector should be carried out by a professional.

The maintenance company also opens the door of the flat if, for example, you accidentally lock yourself out. There is usually a charge for this service.

The maintenance company also carries out general maintenance for the whole building, in which case they have to visit the flat. There will always be an announcement in advance.

PROPERTY MANAGER

The Property Manager takes care of the management of the housing company. Find out who is the Property Manager of your building. Contact information can usually be found on the bulletin board in the stair corridor. You can also ask him about the use of common facilities and the associated fees. In common use, for example, there may be:

  • sauna, which you will need a booking for
  • laundry room where you can wash and dry laundry with a booking
  • also, the car slot might have a charge.

If you want a satellite dish in your flat, ask permission from the Property Manager. An antenna or other structures can’t be installed without permission.

Follow the instructions of the Property Manage and the housing rules of the building. If you do not follow the instructions and rules, you can get a warning. When you receive multiple warnings, you can be evicted out of your flat.

RULES OF HOUSING

Get familiar with the rights and obligations of occupants on the InfoFinland page.

When housing, remember to / that:

  • follow the rules for the occupant.
  • Take other people into consideration.
  • sort waste in correct waste containers. Do not store rubbish bags on the balcony or yard.
  • avoid shouting and loud music or having the television on from night to morning.
  • park your car in your own spot.
  • in several buildings today smoking on the balcony is prohibited.
  • Do not make any changes or renovations to the flat without the permission of the Property Manager and the homeowner!

Ouka.fi – Housing Guide FinnishEnglishSomaliArabicTigrinyaDari

Helsinki: Living in a rental flat -video: (in other languages) EnglishSomaliArabic )

Safety at home

Safety at home – InfoFinland

The general emergency number is 112. Call the emergency number if you need assistance for example from the fire service or police, or an ambulance needs to be alerted to the scene.

Note that:

  • Finland has a law that dictates that every flat must have enough smoke detectors. A smoke detector is a device that responds to smoke by beeping. When the smoke detector beeps, it is a sign that there may be a fire in a flat or building. A smoke detector can save your life!One smoke detector is enough for about 60 square meters. If your home has 65 square meters in area, you will need two smoke detectors.If your flat has more than one floor, calculate the area of each floor separately. There must be enough smoke detectors on each floor.Install a smoke detector on the ceiling in the middle of the room to detect smoke from the fire as quickly as possible. However, do not install a smoke detector in the immediate vicinity of the stove or oven.You must yourself make sure that the smoke detector works. You can buy a smoke detector, for example, at a department store, a bigger grocery store or hardware store. There are different types of smoke detectors and you can ask for more information at the shop. Test once a month that the smoke detector works. Replace the batteries, if necessary, preferably at least once a year.
  • Candles should not be left lit unattended in a room. It is important to remember that an adult must always keep an eye on the candles. Young children for example can accidentally knock down a candle and cause a fire.
  • Don’t use broken electrical appliances or try to repair them yourself. If there is a failure in the electrical appliance, take it to a repairer or collection points. Electrical appliances can only be repaired by certified electricians.
  • Check regularly that the water pipes in your flat do not leak. In Finland, water is circulated in the radiators of houses (not gas, for example). Also, check that, for example, the dishwasher, refrigerator or washing machine do not drain water on the floor.
  • A professional should install the dishwasher, you should not do the installation yourself. Your home insurance might not cover a leak otherwise.
  • If there is a water leak in your flat, try to close the water pipe from the check valve. Immediately report the leak to the on-call number of the building maintenance company or directly to the Property Manager and owner.

City of Helsinki, Neighbourhood Project: My home in a housing block – guide (pdf)

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Pirkanmaa Fire and rescue department videos (not subtitled):

PREVENTION OF FIRES IN YOUR FLAT:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

PREVENTION OF FIRES IN A DORMITORY:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

EXITING THE APARTMENT AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFE EXIT:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

EXITING THE APARTMENT AND THE IMPORTANCE OF SAFE EXIT IN A DORMITORY:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

HOW TO ACT IN THE EVENT OF A FIRE IN AN APARTMENT:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

HOW TO ACT IN CASE OF A FIRE IN A DORMITORY FIRE IN YOUR ROOM:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

HOW TO ACT IN CASE OF A FIRE IN A DORMITORY FIRE IN ANOTHER ROOM:

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT IN FINLAND (PART 1):

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

FIRE AND RESCUE DEPARTMENT IN FINLAND (PART 2):

(englanti | kurdi | farsi | somali | dari | venäjä | arabia)

Home insurance

Home insurance is a contract in case for damage at home.

You yourself choose an insurance company. Different insurance companies have different policies. Always check before taking a contract to see what your own insurance will replace. Home insurance is voluntary, but many landlords refuse to rent a flat if the tenant doesn’t have home insurance. Home insurance also secures your own property!

When paying a regular premium to an insurance company, you can be compensated by the insurance company for example for goods that have been accidentally broken. Often you also need to pay a certain amount yourself. This amount is called deductible.

Source: Blue Ribbon Foundation: Small vocabulary of housing and social security for someone who moved to Finland:  FinnishArabicKurdishTigrinyaSwahili

Electricity contract

In Finland, the main voltage is 230 volts.

The actual electrical work in Finland can only be done by electricity professionals.

Some small electrical work you can do yourself if you know how to. You can yourself, for example:

  • change the fuse
  • replace the bulb on a light
  • attach the lamp to the ceiling with a light connector.

ELECTRICITY CONTRACT

You will receive electricity to the flat when you make an electricity contract. Do the contract with a power company. You can do a contract on the phone or online.

In Finland, in addition to the electricity usage, you also pay for the transfer of electricity. In general, you do not need to be in contact with the company that owns the power grid, but the contract for the transfer is made while concluding a contract with the company that sells electricity.

Prices of different electricity companies are worth comparing in order to find the most affordable.

Be sure to terminate your contract when you move. You can also transfer the contract to your new home.

Energy Market Agency –  Compare electricity prices

Elenia – How to make a contract.

Vaasan sähkö – Moving and your electricity contract.

Responsibilities

Waste disposal 

When renting, waste disposal is most often included in the rent and is taken care of by the housing company.

A variety of waste bins may be in use in your housing company where residents need to sort their waste. Check your housing company’s sorting instructions. Incorrect sorting is bad for the environment and may increase the cost of waste management and can also have an impact on the amount of rent you pay. Every resident is responsible for the cleanliness of the environment around the waste bins.

If you live in a private house, you need to take care that the waste management will be carried out. There are different companies to choose from depending on where you live.

Animals

If you are renting, your landlord will decide whether you can have pets in the flat. If your pet causes damage, you are usually obligated to repair / replace it. Costs incurred from the repair can be deducted from the rent security deposit you receive back when you move out of the flat.

Buying a flat

When thinking about buying a flat, take into account that you should adequately know the Finnish language! It is really important that the buyer and the seller understand each other! Contact your local Immigration Coordinator for help.

It is usually possible to get a loan from a bank to buy a flat, comparing loan terms and banks is important.

Important information and instructions can be found on the Info Finland page: Buying a home – InfoFinland

Finnish Youth Housing Association (NAL): ABCs of Housing  FinnishEnglishArabicRussian

Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority: Housing trade

Also remember that if you own a flat, you pay property tax on it.
For more information on Vero’s website.

Student housing

If you are a student, you can apply for rental housing specifically for students. Rent for student housing is usually more affordable than that of other flats. Ask your own institute where you can apply for student housing. Some student residences are shared accommodation, meaning the flat has its own room and other facilities are communal.

Student housing — InfoFinland

Kela housing allowance

Kela can pay a housing allowance if you are on a low income. The housing allowance is intended for housing costs.

You can apply for an allowance on rent, property management charge, as well as water charges and heating costs, and home insurance.

Kela housing allowances include:

  • general housing allowance
  • pensioner housing allowance for pensioners
  • housing allowance for conscripts and civilian service men

APPLYING FOR THE HOUSING ALLOWANCE

General housing allowance is sought from Kela with a Housing Benefit Application (AT1).

The required attachments to the application are the following:

  • a copy of your tenancy agreement and a document showing the amount of your rent (for rental dwellings)
  • documentation on maintenance charges and mortgage (for owner-occupied dwellings)

Send the application to Kela’s office or fill in the application online. Kela serves its customers in local offices, by telephone, by mail and through online services. When running your personal errands in Kela’s office, you need to present a proof of identity, for example your passport.

You will receive a decision on either My Kela’s electronic service or by mail.

Kela: Applying for Housing Allowance  suomi | ruotsi | englanti

Kela: General Housing Allowance — Guide  suomi | englanti venäjä

Ecological groups and flea markets (roskalavat = skips, etc.)

There are different groups on Facebook where you can give or sell second-hand, unnecessary goods for you.

These groups can often be found on Facebook with the keywords: ROSKALAVA and the name of your home town.

Along with ecological groups, several localities have a flea market (second hand shop) in operation, where you can find useful things inexpensively.

Moving around

The cities often have functional public transport connections, but in the rural areas you may need your own car.

If you bring your own car, when moving to Finland, you can use it for up to 6 months in one year without paying the car tax. More information on the Vero pages.

Car registration in Finland.

If you buy a car in Finland, on top of the car tax, you must pay a mandatory transport insurance and the car will be registered in your name.

You must also have a driver’s licence that is valid in Finland to drive a car.

Learn more about exchanging a foreign driver’s licence for a Finnish licence.

Buying a car in Finland is easy, too, in larger cities there are plenty of car shops and you can also find a good selection of cars on the internet www.nettiauto.com. The cost of maintaining a car is surprisingly high in Finland. Each year, the compulsory traffic insurance, the vehicle tax, as well as any motor vehicle comprehensive insurance and tax on a motive source must be paid. With a new driver, insurance policies are often more expensive than for an experienced driver.

Public transport

Public transport is poorly available in Southern Ostrobothnia and local transport within municipalities is only operational in a few localities. Buses to the regional centre Seinäjoki are available daily, but service times are often limited to school start and end dates.

When moving from city to city, you can use

Train connections – https://www.vr.fi/en

Bus connections – www.matkahuolto.fi