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Defence ministry refuses Russian citizen property purchase permit

Since 1 January 2020, citizens from countries outside the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) must obtain permission to buy real estate in Finland.

File photo. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle
Yle News

The Ministry of Defence has for the first time blocked a Russian citizen from purchasing real estate in Finland, implementing a law introduced in 2020 that requires non-EU and non-EEA citizens to apply for permission to buy property.

In just over two and a half years since the legislation was introduced, the ministry had issued 1,823 positive and no negative decisions.

The law decrees that private individuals who are not nationals of European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) as well as states and companies or other entities domiciled outside EU and EEA must obtain permission from Finnish authorities to buy real estate in Finland.

The first purchase ban was issued on 5 October, issued to prevent a middle-aged Russian woman from finalising the deal to buy a detached house in the city of Kotka.

According to the ministry, the application was rejected due to incomplete information on the form. In addition, the invoice for the permit fee did not reach the email address provided and attempts to contact the women by phone and by post were unsuccessful.

The law requires that the applicant cooperates in the process and when she did not do so in this case, the purchase authorisation was not granted.

The woman had already bought the property before applying for the required permit. The ministry's decision is not final however, meaning she can appeal. If she does not do so, or if the appeal is late, she has one year to sell the house. If she does not complete the sale within one year, the house will be put up for compulsory auction by the local bailiff's office.

The legislation was introduced in 2020, largely as a means of protecting Finland's national security — although the ministry noted that the decision to reject the woman's application was not related to any national security concerns.

Of the 1,823 positive decisions granted so far, around 1,000 were issued for the purchase of residential property while just under 400 for holiday homes. The remainder of the decisions were granted for business and commercial properties as well as industrial, agricultural and forestry real estate.

The vast majority of applications were submitted by Russian citizens, with the next highest number coming from Ukrainians, Chinese nationals and Swiss citizens. In total, more than 60 nationalities have been granted purchasing authorisations.

By region, the highest numbers of permits have been granted in the Helsinki metropolitan area and the wider Uusimaa region, while the lowest number were in South and Central Ostrobothnia.

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