Renting a flat in Helsinki

New apartment blocks in Helsinki's Kalasatama district

Renting a flat in Helsinki is a very popular housing option. Over 85 per cent of the city’s population lives in an apartment. Around half of the flats are rented and the other half are owner-occupied.

Where to look and what to expect

Most flats in Helsinki are small, by western standards. The average apartment size in Helsinki is 63m2. This is typically two rooms (living room and one bedroom), a kitchen and a bathroom.

Many newcomers to the city find their first home on the open market. The main real estate websites are www.oikotie.fi (Finnish only) and www.vuokraovi.fi (limited English). You can browse the available properties on the site without charge. The list of common terms in housing ads below might prove helpful.

  • vuokra (€/kk): rent (euros per month)
  • h, huone: room 
  • kph: bathroom (includes toilet and shower, sometimes washing machine)
  • k, avok, kk: kitchen, open kitchen, kitchenette (includes refrigerator and stove, sometimes dishwasher and microwave)
  • vh, et, oh, s: closet, entryway, living room, sauna 
  • sijainti: location
  • kerrostalo: apartment, flat 
  • rivitalo: terraced house, row house (side-by-side homes that share one or more walls)
  • paritalo: duplex house (two homes under one roof)
  • omakotitalo: detached, single-family home
  • rakennusvuosi: construction year
  • asuinpinta-ala:  floor area (in square metres, m2)
  • kalustettuna: furnished

Important considerations

  • Rent is typically paid monthly. The due date is specified in the rental agreement. You must pay the rent to the property owner’s bank account. You may not pay rent with a credit card.
  • Few people sublet in Helsinki. Keep in mind that if you live in someone’s flat without the property owner’s consent, you run the risk of being evicted at short notice. 
  • Make sure all of your housing arrangements are made in writing and you receive a copy. Don’t sign something you don’t understand; request a copy in your language or have it translated. 
  • Make sure there are no time limits on the flat’s availability. Property owners typically ask tenants in Helsinki to commit to a rental agreement for at least one year at first.
  • Renters in Helsinki may not make any changes to their dwelling without written permission from the property owner.
  • You can terminate your rental agreement with one month’s notice. If your rental agreement is terminated by your landlord, they are required by law give you three to six months’ notice.
Thinking about renting a flat in Helsinki?

It is a good idea to read the Finnish Consumer Authority’s facts and advice on renting before entering into any kind of rental agreement.

Learn the rules of your building

You will find a set of rules about living in your building posted somewhere near the entrance. These rules include specific instructions for using the shared laundry room or sauna. Your neighbours will take these building rules very seriously, so read them carefully.

Learning how your building deals with things like noise, maintenance and recycling will make things go more smoothly. InfoFinland has a list of occupant rights and obligations that outlines the general expectations you may encounter. This guide for residents may also be helpful.

Watch this helpful video from Helsinki’s water and waste management company HSY. 

Average rental costs in Helsinki

In Helsinki, a two-room rental apartment (living room and one bedroom) with a kitchen and bath costs around 800–1,100 euros per month on the open market. Rent on homes with three rooms, a kitchen and bath is about 1,000–1,500 euros monthly. Furnished homes are rare and more expensive. See our About the city section’s Cost of living table for more information on average total monthly expenses.

Rent in Helsinki normally includes water and property maintenance. It does not normally include the cost of electricity, phone, cable or broadband, although more locations are including broadband in the rental cost these days. In most cases, renters must purchase home insurance. They are also required to pay a security deposit of one or two months’ rent.

Keep in mind that rental flats in Helsinki vary according to size, location and general condition. Homes farther away from the city centre tend to be more affordable. 

Monthly financial assistance from the state may be available to renters in Helsinki with a low household income who are permanent residents of the country. The state benefits administrator Kela provides more information on Finland’s system of housing benefits

Housing problems and advice

If you encounter difficulties paying your rent or face the threat of eviction, the City of Helsinki can assist you. Check the contact information for the area you live in on webpages of the city’s housing consultation service

If you do not have permanent housing and are not officially a tenant or a subtenant in Helsinki, you are considered homeless. In this case, the city’s social services can help you find temporary housing and and financial aid, if you are eligible. Helsinki makes it a priority to provide unconditional housing to the homeless.

How can I avoid problems with my housing in Helsinki?

Prevent disputes by inspecting the apartment carefully and writing down any defects before you rent it. InfoFinland has a list of housing problems and how to address them.

Checklist for renters

  1. Complete the First Steps Checklist after your arrival
  2. Find temporary short-term housing while you get to know the city and look for a permanent place to live
  3. Find services near properties you are considering with the Service Map and Journey Planner
  4. Apply for subsidised housing or look for housing on the open market
  5. Visit and inspect the property before you rent
  6. Study the consumer authority’s advice; do not sign something you do not understand
  7. Sign a rental agreement or buy your home  
  8. Read the rules of your housing company and fulfil your obligations as a renter
  9. If you have a low-income household, apply for housing benefits
  10. Use the city’s housing consultation service if problems arise

Low-cost rental housing from the city

The City of Helsinki owns 63 per cent of the city’s total land area and over 50,000 government-subsidised flats. Occupants of these flats pay a lower rent. These properties are in very high demand. 

Tenant selection for these properties is based on applicants’ need for housing, income and net worth. In other words, the subsidised flats are offered to those who need them the most. Check the city’s levels of urgency in this regard and see if you fit the description.

Each year, some 3,500 rental flats become available from existing stock, and 500 flats in new buildings become available. Open the box below to learn more about the different options.

Ara – lower-cost housing that is planned, built and maintained by the Finnish government via the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (Ara). There are three kinds of Ara housing in Finland: rental, right-of-occupancy and part-ownership.

Rental – a standard rental agreement where tenants pay monthly rent and possible additional fees to the property owner.

Right-of-occupancy – between renting and owning, requires buyer to pay 15 per cent of purchase price and monthly maintenance charge in exchange for the right to live in the flat indefinitely. The 15 percent payment is refunded with interest if the tenant moves out. Applicants need to have a right-of-occupancy queue number from the city to apply for this kind of apartment.

Part-ownership – starts out with a payment of 15 percent of the purchase price and monthly rental payments, but after a specified time period the tenant has the right to buy the apartment outright.

Heka – The City of Helsinki manages most of its 50,000 Ara flats through its own housing enterprise, named Helsingin kaupungin asunnot Oy, or Heka for short. Five area-specific offices (responsible for homes in the south, west, northeast, east and southeast parts of the city) operate under the Heka umbrella.

There are two other city-administrated real estate companies, Auroranlinna and  Helsingin asuntohankinta, that largely supply housing to municipal employees and special groups, but may also rent a few flats to other tenants on the open market. 

Housing for special groups – The City of Helsinki makes housing available to special groups such as the elderly, homeless and asylum seekers, as well as people with disabilities, substance abuse problems or child welfare issues. For more information, contact the city’s social services department.

How can I apply for subsidised housing in Helsinki?

Go the city’s Rental apartment search website to learn more and apply for low-cost housing in the city.