Renting a flat in Helsinki

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Aerial view of blocks of flats

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. This is because the average apartment size in Helsinki is 63m2. Typically, a flat of this size has two rooms (a living room and one bedroom), in addition to a kitchen and a bathroom.

Many newcomers to the city rent a flat on the open market. In brief, 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 to rent a flat quickly. It is a good idea to apply for housing in several places at the same time, if you can. Many of the flat diagrams are in Finnish only, so we hope the list of common terms in housing ads below will prove helpful in your search.

Map of average rental housing costs by month in Helsinki, divided into four groups by price

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. In the same way, 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 it also includes broadband service, but in most cases, rent does not include the cost of electricity, phone or cable services . In most cases, people that rent a flat 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.

What part of Helsinki is right for you? The MyHelsinki website has a great presentation of the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, specifically highlighting each of their different characteristics.

Checklist for renters

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. Therefore, 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 consequently 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. Above all, don’t sign something you don’t understand. Request a copy in your language or have it translated. 
Note that renters in Helsinki may not make any changes to their dwelling without written permission from the property owner.
Make sure there are no time limits on the flat’s availability. In general, property owners typically ask tenants in Helsinki to commit to a rental agreement for at least one year at first.
You can terminate your rental agreement with one month’s notice. However, if your rental agreement is terminated by your landlord, 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, as well as how your building deals with things like noise, maintenance and recycling. Your neighbours will take these building rules very seriously, so read them carefully.
Watch this helpful video from Helsinki’s water and waste management company HSY. 

Low-cost rental housing from the city

The City of Helsinki owns 63 per cent of the city’s total land area and as a result, 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 and not often available.

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.

How can I apply for subsidised housing?

Apply for low-cost Helsinki City Housing Company (Heka) housing by filling in a form found on the city’s rental housing website.