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Record number of rental flats available in Helsinki

A fall in jobs in service industries during the pandemic has freed up large numbers of rental flats in the capital.

Mies nousemassa kierreportaita.
About 2,000 rentals in Helsinki are currently listed online. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

One impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been a surge in the number of non-subsidised rental flats available in the Finnish capital.

According to City of Helsinki Housing Programme Manager Mari Randell, the number of rental flats that have been vacated over the past year has gradually increased and there are currently about 2,000 homes available online.

"A situation like this has never been seen in Helsinki before," says Randell.

Fewer young people moving

Randell attributes the situation in part to the fact that the restaurant and tourism industries have been hard hit the coronavirus pandemic. These are sectors that typically employ large numbers of younger people.

"Young people between the ages of 20 and 30 often live in rental accommodations. At the moment, these jobs are not available in the same way as in the past, so young people are moving less, and moving less to Helsinki," Randell explains.

In addition, many homes that were being used for Airbnb stays have now become long-term rentals.

According to Randell, it is rental accommodations on the open market in particular that are more widely available, with no similar upswing seen in the availability of state-subsidised housing.

The situation also seems to have curbed rising rent levels.

"There is sure to be continuing demand for flats, and it is really great that finally tenants in Helsinki have more options," says Randell.

Thousands of new flats

While the pandemic seems to have cut demand for rental housing, Randell does not believe this will be a long-term trend.

"Urbanisation continues, the prices of owner-occupied housing have continued to rise, and more housing purchases were made last year than in previous years," she points out.

The City of Helsinki has set ambitious goals for housing construction. This year's target is 7,000 new homes. Last year the city's corresponding target was exceeded.

"Not even the coronavirus has hampered construction," Randell says.

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