Tenant’s obligations and liability

You must pay the rent as agreed, l take care of the apartment carefully and leave it tidy when the lease ends. You must pay for any damage you have caused intentionally or negligently. The landlord may refuse to refund some of the security deposit to make up for the damage.

Pay the rent as agreed

You must pay the agreed amount of rent on the agreed date.

If you do not pay your rent in time, you may have to pay collection costs and overdue interest. If you have not paid the rent for a few months, or if your payments are always irregular, this may also give the landlord the right to cancel the lease without a separate warning.

If you are sometimes unable to pay the rent in time for some unexpected reason, contact the landlord at once.

Report any damage to the landlord

You must immediately notify the landlord of any damage to or defects in the apartment for which the landlord is responsible for repair. You must report the damage at once if the repairs must be made straight away to stop the damage from getting worse.

In emergencies, follow the instructions the landlord and the housing company have given. Usually you must contact the building manager at once about any sudden problems.

If you do not report a problem, you may be liable for the damage caused by your negligence.

Take good care of the apartment

You must take care of the apartment carefully. You are liable for any damage you cause to the apartment intentionally or negligently. You are also responsible for the actions of any persons who stay in the apartment with your permission.

In addition to normal everyday cleaning, you are responsible for such tasks as changing the light bulbs, clearing the floor drains and cleaning the grease filter in the cooker hood. You should ask the landlord about the maintenance tasks that are your responsibility.

You should note that as a rule, you may not make repairs or alterations in the flat without the landlord’s permission.

You are not responsible for the normal wear and tear of the apartment

If you could have avoided the damage by being more careful, this is taken into account when assessing your liability. However, you are not liable for the normal wear and tear of the apartment. Even if you caused the damage by negligently, you are only liable for the repair costs if they are higher than the cost of repairs needed because of normal wear and tear.

Normal wear and tear refers to the normal wear and tear of the dwelling over time and the traces of normal living. For example,
marks on the wall or ceiling made by hanging pictures and lights are usually regarded as normal wear and tear. You are not liable for small marks, dents and scratches. On the other hand, large dents or marks caused by dropping things on the floor, for example, are not usually considered normal wear and tear.

Factors that may be taken into account when considering normal wear and tear include

  • the condition of the apartment when you move in
  • if the damage was caused suddenly or slowly over time
  • the age of the apartment and previous renovations
  • how long you have lived in the apartment
  • the number of people living in the apartment.

Damage caused gradually over a long period of time can often be regarded as normal wear and tear. If you have been living in the flat for a long time, more wear and tear is usually acceptable than if your lease has been short. A family with young children usually causes more signs of wear than the household of a single person.

Read more about normal wear and tear and cleaning of a flat on the website of Suomen Kiinteistönvälittäjät (SKVL). The instructions were drawn up by RAKLI, the Finnish Real Estate Management Federation, SKVL, the Finnish Landlord Association, Finnish Tenants and the Finnish Real Estate Federation.

Clean the apartment carefully when you move out

You have a duty to leave the apartment clean and tidy at the end of your lease. If the landlord has given instructions for cleaning, you must follow them.

If the landlord is unhappy about the results of the final cleaning, you can ask if you could clean the flat again before it is handed over to the next tenant. However, the landlord does not have a legal obligation to agree to this, which is why you should carry out the final cleaning carefully once and for all.

Keep your keys safe

When you take over an apartment, make sure that the number of keys the landlord hands out to you is documented. You have a duty to keep the keys safe throughout the lease term. When the lease ends, you must give back to the landlord the same number of keys that you received at the beginning of the lease.

If you are careless and lose a key, you may have to pay the landlord for the costs of changing the locks.

Careful inspection of the apartment prevents

Before you sign a lease, worth carrying out a careful inspection of the apartment. You and the landlord check the condition of the flat and the household appliances and write down any faults and defects you notice. You can also take photographs or videos of the flat.

A documented inspection pf the flat prevents disputes, because it can later be used to determine the condition of the flat at the start of the lease and show if a fault or defect already was in the flat at that time.

When the lease ends, you should also have a final inspection together. You can check the condition of the apartment in the same way it was done in the beginning. Cleaning can be approved and faults documented.

Proof of damage

If the landlord claims compensation from you, they must prove that the damage to the apartment is worse than normal wear and tear, or that the you  didn’t do the cleaning properly when you moved out. The landlord’s observations are not usually enough, and they must have reliable proof of the damage, for example photographs.

The landlord must prove that the damage is worse than normal wear and tear and that it was caused when you lived in the apartment, for example based on documents made at the initial and final inspections. If the landlord does not have such proof and the apartment is old, in resolving disputes, it has often been assumed that at least some of the defects occurred during the course of previous tenants.

If the final cleaning has not been done properly, the landlord’s order confirmation and invoice for cleaning services have often been considered reliable and sufficiently detailed information about the need for cleaning.

Filing a complaint and dispute resolution  

  • Claims should be submitted in written to the landlord. You can use the Complaint Assistant to draw up your complaint to the landlord, for example concerning the following situations:

    • Return of security deposit
    • Inadequate condition of the apartment
    • Contesting a claim for compensation
    • Reducing a rent increase
    • Termination/cancellation of the lease

    Making a complaint and the Complaint Assistant 

  • You should first try and resolve any problems with the landlord. If the dispute cannot be resolved, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services and get instructions for the next steps.

    The Consumer Advisory Services

    You should note that if the landlord is a private person, the Consumer Advisory Services cannot investigate the problem or mediate in a dispute, and we can only provide advice at a general level.

    The Consumer Disputes Board can deal with most disputes over rental apartments between private individuals.