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 Oikotie (Finnish only) and Vuokraovi (limited English). In addition, the private housing companies Sato and Lumo offer options, particularly if you need a place quickly. It is a good idea to apply for housing in several places at the same time, if you can. 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
Average rent in Helsinki
In Helsinki, a one-room rental studio apartment with a kitchen and bath costs around 600-700 euros per month on the open market. Rent on homes with two rooms (a living room and one bedroom), a kitchen and bath is about 900–1,100 euros monthly. Furnished homes are rare and more expensive.
Rent in Helsinki normally includes water and property maintenance, sometimes broadband service. It does not normally include the cost of electricity, phone or cable services . In most cases, renters must purchase home insurance before they can begin living in the space. In addition, renters are required to pay a security deposit of one or two months’ rent.
Don’t forget that there are also many state-subsidised housing options with lower rents in Helsinki. See our section on Low-cost rental housing to learn more. Keep in mind that rental flats in Helsinki vary according to size, location and general condition. As a rule, homes farther away from the city centre tend to be more affordable.
Monthly financial assistance from the state may be available to permanent residents of Helsinki with a low household income. The state benefits administrator Kela explains Finland’s system of housing benefits on its website.
The MyHelsinki website has a great presentation of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, highlighting each of their different characteristics.
It is a good idea to read the Finnish Consumer Authority’s housing advice before entering into any kind of rental agreement.
- 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 or cash.
- 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.
- Note that 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, however, they are required by law to give three to six months’ notice.
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. To this end, InfoFinland has a compiled a list of occupant rights and obligations that outlines some of the expectations you may encounter. This guide for residents might also be of help.
Housing problems and advice
If you encounter difficulties paying your rent or face the threat of eviction, the city’s housing consultation service can help you to find the help you need.
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, if you are eligible, the city’s social services can help you secure temporary housing and financial aid. The City of Helsinki makes it a priority to provide unconditional housing to the homeless.
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
- Complete the First Steps Checklist after your arrival
- Find temporary short-term housing while you get to know the city and look for a permanent place to live
- Find services near properties you are considering with the Service Map and Journey Planner
- After that, apply for subsidised housing or look for housing on the open market
- Visit the property you are interested in and take note of any defects before you commit to renting the space
- Remember to study the consumer authority’s advice; do not sign something you do not understand
- Next, sign a rental agreement or buy your home
- Read the rules of your housing company and fulfil your obligations as a renter
- Finally, if you have a low income, you should remember to apply for housing benefits
- And don’t forget to 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 therefore pay a lower rent. For this reason, these properties are in very high demand.
Tenant selection for these properties is based on applicants’ income, net worth and housing need. In other words, subsidised flats are offered to those who need them the most. Before you apply, check the city’s selection criteria and see if you fit the description.
Heka – The City of Helsinki manages most of its subsidised flats through the Helsinki City Housing Company, more familiarly known as Heka. Five area-specific offices operate under the Heka umbrella.
In addition, there are two other city-administrated real estate companies, Auroranlinna and Helsingin asuntohankinta, that largely supply housing to municipal employees and special groups. However, they may also rent a few flats to other tenants on the open market.
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. After a specified time period, the tenant has the right to buy the apartment outright.
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.
Apply for low-cost housing at the city’s rental housing website.