Finland's largest rental organisation, the City of Helsinki's housing firm Heka has decided to forbid smoking in any of its new or renovated flats. Heka's board made the decision on Tuesday.
Smoking will be banned inside apartments as well as on balconies, terraces and in yards. The terms of current rental contracts will not change.
Heka CEO Jaana Närö told Yle that "the time is ripe" for such a full ban. She says there are myriad reasons for prohibiting smoking.
"For instance, a survey was just carried that shows that smoking has declined in Helsinki, and we want to do our part to support this reduction. The ban also relates to real estate property management questions and to issues that cause disputes, when people smoke on balconies and the smoke spreads to their neighbours' balconies," Närö says.
The ban will be a condition in new rental contracts. Repeated violation of the rule may be grounds to break off a rental agreement after warnings, she notes.
Lawyer: Perfectly legal to halt smoking on balconies
Jenni Hupli, chief counsel at the Finnish Real Estate Federation, says forbidding smoking on balconies and terraces is completely legal, as long as the matter is agreed in the rental contract.
She says that a renter's desire to block smoking in flats and on balconies is highly understandable.
"Renters of course favour such bans because there are many costs associated with smoking," she points out.
The City of Helsinki owns more than 56,000 dwellings, which are in high demand due to relatively low rents. They house some 90,000 people, or about one in six Helsinkians.