As the next part of our series, „Finding an Apartment with a Pet”, we talked to Lili who lives in Finland and she is both a tenant and a dog keeper.

Easy Home: Since when do you live in Finland? Have you always been looking for an apartment with a dog? What kind of a dog do you have, how old is he and what gender is he?

Lili: I have been living in Finland for 6 years now. I came to the country to start my university studies, back then I lived on my own in a dormitory. Although students were allowed to keep a pet in the dorm and it did not require a special permit or notification, the space was so small (19 sqm) that I did not want to keep a pet in a place that was the size of a prison cell.

Topi is 2 years old and is a neutered, Cardigan Corgi. Before I brought him home, I talked to my Landlort and asked him if I could keep a dog in the apartment. The only thing our lease contract said was that „In case of pets, we will consult later”, but as it turns out, this was included in the contract only to negotiate if an exotic, noisy or any special animal were to be included in the picture (for example and Ara parrot or rare turtle, fish, etc.). When he found out that I want „just” a puppy, he said that said of course the puppy can come, everyone has the right to keep a pet. If he chews or destroys anything, that will be deducted from my security deposit. 

The last time I was looking for a place to rent with a doggy was a bit trickier. Half of the owners indicated that “pets are not allowed”. According to my experience, finns are very empathetic. For my current apartment the owner also indicated in the advertisement that no animals should be brought, yet when I told them that Topi was a house-cleaned puppy, is neutered and I take full responsibility for any damage he causes (which he won’t do anyway), my landlord agreed to him coming with me.

Right now I am looking for a new place and as I was introducing myself in the phone, I was hesitating whether I should tell them right away that I have a dog, but my worry was unfounded, because the first thing the landlord asked when I told him about Topi was, “Oh, what kind and how old is he? Bring him with you when we meet up!”

With an honest conversation, everything can be resolved!

On an avarage weekday, Topi is home on his own. I have a night shift (from 9 to 17.30) twice a week and on those days I take Topi to a doggy day care. When I have a morning shift (from 6.15 to 14.30) we always go to a dog park in the afternoon for about an hour- an hour and a half (until Topi wants to stay) and in the evening we take a 30 to 45 minute walk. 

Easy Home: – On what channels and forums can a tenant search for an apartment in Finland?

Lili:– In Finnland the apartment search goes fully online. The state strictly monitors the activities of property owners and has a separate legal system for renting and leasing sublets. Since I never had to look for an apartment when I lived in Hungary, I’m  sometimes suprised about the horror stories I hear. In Finland a resident would never dare to destroy the apartment he is renting, or a landlord cannot “just” throw out his tenant.

Everyone uses a state-regulated lease, which can only be changed in the presence of a lawyer – so it’s safe to find and maintain an apartment here.

  • Municipalities have their own apartments that they rent out to private individuals, for which a separate office has been set up. You can apply for these apartments through the Finnish online client gate, where you have to answer a very detailed questionnaire, attach tax and employer papers. Then the office makes an offer to the applicant based on where he works and how much his income is. If he has no income, a certain percentage of his social aid gets deducted, so there is almost no homelessness in Finland. These apartments are in good conditions and are affordable. 
  • If you are looking for a sublet in a non-municipal website, you will still sign the state-regulated contract, the only difference will be in the prices. In Finland many companies maintain and rent out certain parts of multi-storey houses and suburbs. means that the company owns a building that has apartments in it and then rents the flats out. In return, the company is responsible for keeping the flats, the house and the surrounding environment tidy. Usually, these companies’ apartments are more expensive than the state’s. The reason for the price difference is explained in the contract (eg common community room, gym in the basement, common washing and drying area, cleaning service, etc.). I mentioned earlier that these companies are only available online and the application is done through a detailed questionnaire. It is unnecessary to go into their office, the election procedure cannot be influenced and if someone tries to apply for an apartment in the office, they will be redirected to go home and apply online anyway.

Easy Home:– As a pet owner, what is the best way to find an apartment?

Lili: – Pets are automatically allowed in apartments owned by municipals, and companies that are specialized in renting-out real estates are also allowing to keep pets inside the dwelling. According to my experience, there have been cases in the private sector where I have read that “keeping a pet is not allowed,” but as I mentioned, this ban can most often be resolved between the parties. Primarily, I would apply for municipal housing as they are cheaper and in good condition.

Easy Home:– Homeowners in Hungary are quite negative about pets, how hard it is to find a place as a petowner in Finland? 

Lili: – In this question, the two countries’ cultures are very different. Here people are much more accepting about pets, they consider pets as family. There are landlords who would rather have a tenant with a pet than with a child. My current landlord believes that a child could cause much more damage than a dog or a cat could. 

Easy Home:– What is the typical contract in Finland? In Hungary, fixed-term leases are preferred, what is typical in your country? 

Lili: – State-regulated contracts are for half a year  months and one year. For periods other than these, a separate contract form must be prepared. If the one-year contract expires and the parties are satisfied with the terms, the contract becomes indefinite.
The notice period in state-regulated contracts is as follows:

-on behalf of the owner: 6 months
-on behalf of the tenant: 3 months 

If the notice period falls within these periods, the other party must be compensated. For example, if the owner suddenly (say this month) wants to use the apartment, no matter how much he wants to, he cannot kick the tenant out, unless he pays him 6 months’ of rent fee, as a compensation. The same applies if a resident suddenly moves out within two weeks, he must pay two and a half months ’rent fee to the owner, as a compensation. There is a separate legal system for this, which I recommend reading. 

The security deposit usually worth 1 or 2 months of rent fee – this is also regulated by the law. The amount of the deposit may not exceed the above. 

The deposit and rent fee must always be paid by bank transfer. In Finnland the use of notes is very rare, the use of cash is disappearing. 

Easy Home: -Are there more furnished or unfurnished pet-friendly apartments? What’s the method for accounting the utility bills? 

Lili: – In every apartment there is a refrigerater and built-in cabinets of some sort. The tenant has to bring his own microwave, couch, bed and table. The furnished apartments are very rare – as far as I know, there is no difference with a pet either.

The tenant has to pay his electricity bill, the water consumpton and the internet fee are included in the rent fee. Nowadays it is obvious that even a building that was built in the 70s have a 10 Mb/s internet. According to the Finnish constitution, internet access is a fundamental human right. If someone wants a higher quality internet connection than what the condominium offers (say you need it for streaming or need an internet connection that specifically withstands the heavier load), the resident has to take care of this separately and pay for it. However, this does not trigger the “basic” internet connection – you have to pay for that, too.

Easy Home: – What is the dog owner community like in Finnland?

Lili: – I would like to start by saying that animal welfare laws in Finland are very detailed and serious penalties can be expected if they are violated. Dog and cat, even guinea pig community life is very active. Each city is designed to have a dog park within a 15-minute walk. Animal rights are so strong that many companies deal with the day care and care of pets. The rights of pets include, for example, that a dog can be alone maximum for 10 hours and a cat for maximum12 hours. The dog has a right for three walks a day, two of which are shorter (less than 30 minutes) and one longer (minimum one hour). Shorter or less frequent walks are considered to be animal tortures and it is our civil duty to report it to the police or an animal welfare organization if we notice it. 

Dog day cares are becomeing more and more common, as it makes life much smoother and more balanced – Topi also goes to day care twice a week, where professional caregivers are supervising him and they have a daily routine as well. 

I could talk hours about the fact that the dog park is also a community space (smoking and alcohol consumption are prohibited in the area) and on the municipal website there are detailed rules on the conditions and etiquette of staying in the dog park.

The dog parks are maintained by the municipality, and local communities have WhatsApp groups and facebook groups to organize dog birthdays or other events. 

In addition, the largest pet store chain offers the hire of a local dog school trainer (the first appointment is free), nail / claw trimming, and a hairdresser.

Easy Home: – What are the radical differences between the hungarian and finnish real estate market? What kind of things were “weird” when you moved to Finland, that weren’t common or didn’t happen at home to you? 

Lili: – I find it unbelievable that I would be discriminated just because I have a dog. He is part of my life, just like anyone else who has family living with them,an expensive hobby that requires daily maintenance, or a beloved property of another. Traveling with a dog is completely normal, and I was especially shocked when I saw a year ago in Hungary that a dog had to buy a bus ticket. There is a separate dog section on the metro and train and not just a corner, but an entire wagon, just as those traveling with children have their own railway car. Finns value peace, personal space and respect for each other, so if someone is traveling with a dog / child, they can only travel in the wagons reserved for them. If you buy a ticket for another wagon,the guide will make you purchase a new ticket right there (€ 80) + penalty for breaking the rules and will immediately redirect the passenger to the railway car reserved for himThis is just an example. It’s no joke, that the Finns especially appreciate the quiet residents so they prefer tenants with pets over tenants with children.

Finns are a very law-following people, so I find it inconceivable that the owner of an apartment would want to sign a private, individual contract with me – this is already fundamentally suspicious and illegal.

If a tenant “ destroys” an apartment, he will not only lose his deposit but also get a lawsuit around his neck. Free, public legal advice is available to everyone on rental matters; in an emergency, you can call a telephone number available from 24/7.