Right-of-occupancy flats

The owner of the building is responsible for the maintenance of a right-of-occupancy flat. You need to inform the owner of the flat if you are planning renovations. The owner's permission is needed for most renovations.

The building owner must ensure that the flat is available for the resident’s use as stated in the contract and in as good a condition as can reasonably be expected, considering the age of the flat and other similar factors.

As a form of housing, a right-of-occupancy flat is something from between renting and owning a flat. When you move in, you must first make the right-of-occupancy payment, which usually is 15% of the flat’s purchase price. While you are living in the flat, you pay a monthly charge for using it.

You can get a bank loan for the payment and a tax relief based on it. You can use the value of the right-of-occupancy flat as a security for the loan. You have to use the flat as your permanent home. You can rent the flat to somebody else for at most two years for a special reason and with the permission of the building owner. You cannot buy the flat and become its owner.

Queueing numbers for applicants

Any person aged 18 and over can apply for a right-of-occupancy flat. There are no income limits, but the applicant may not own a flat or house in the same area, and the applicant may not have the funds to buy one. This condition does not apply to applicants who are over 55 years of age or those who switch from one right-of-occupancy flat to another.

When you apply for a flat, you get a place in the queue. From the beginning of September 2023, the numbers are applied from the the Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland (ARA). The new numbers will be valid for two years and you can use them to apply for a right-of-occupancy dwelling in the whole country. During the time of 1.9–31.12.2023 you can apply for a right-of-occupancy dwelling using both old and new numbers. The old numbers applied from the communities will have priority in tenant selection until the end of 2023. After that you can register with the owner or right-of-occupancy housing association of the building in which you would like to live in. You can apply to several building owners for a flat. The companies or associations owning right-of-occupancy dwellings grant right-of-occupancy dwellings to applicants.

Using the flat and its costs

The owner of the building is responsible for the maintenance of the flat. While living   in the flat, you can carry out maintenance and repairs in it if you keep the owner informed. You need the owner’s permission for larger alterations.

You pay a monthly charge for the right-of-occupancy flat, which covers its capital and maintenance costs.

The amount of this charge is based on covering the costs, and it must not be higher than the rent charged for similar flats in the municipality. The company that owns the flat decides about the charge for the flat. If the charge is increased, you will be informed in written. Like in rental houses owned by cities and municipalities, the residents have the right to participate in the administration of the right-of-occupancy building and they are allowed to participate in decision-making regarding changes.

Giving up the right of occupancy

You cannot sell the right of occupancy freely. You can sell the flat through the building owner to a person who has been approved by the municipality. People living in right-of-occupancy flats can arrange to swap flats.

If you decide to give up your right of occupancy, your right of occupancy payment is refunded to you, increased by an amount based on the building cost index. To give up your right of occupancy, you need to tell the building owner about it.

Building owner’s obligations

The owner of the building must ensure that the flat is available for the resident’s use on the date stated in the right-of-occupancy contract.
The flat must be in as good a condition as the resident can reasonably expect, taking into account the content of the right of occupancy contract and, for example, the flat’s age and local housing conditions.

If the handover of the flat is delayed or the flat is in a poor condition, you can refuse to pay the charge for using the flat, or have the charge reduced by a reasonable amount. If defects are discovered while the resident is using the flat, this right begins on the date when the resident informs the building owner about the defect.

The building owner is liable to compensate the resident for any losses that are caused by a delay in the handover of the flat or its poor condition. This liability does not exist if the building owner can show that the breach of contract or losses are not due to their negligence or other carelessness.

Resident’s rights and obligations

You must tell the building owner in advance of any significant maintenance work and alterations in your flat. Without the permission of the building owner, you may not start any work that

  • could damage the building or otherwise cause inconvenience to the building owner or other residents ‘
  • could affect the load-bearing structures or insulation of the building, the water or gas pipes, electric cables and similar installations in the building, or the air conditioning system.

If you have carried out necessary maintenance work in the flat with the owner’s permission, you have the right to reasonable compensation from the owner.

The building owner has the right to come into the flat if this is necessary to check on the maintenance or condition of the flat or renovation or alteration work, or to carry out repairs.

You must compensate the building owner for any damage you have caused in the flat on purpose or by negligence or other carelessness. You are also liable for any damage caused by persons who stay in the flat with your permission.

You are not liable for the normal wear and tear of the flat caused by using the flat for the purpose set out in the contract.
You should report any damage to the flat or defects in it to the owner straight away. You must make the report at once if the repairs must be made as soon as possible to stop the damage getting worse.