Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe, covering 338,145 square kilometres and is the second most northerly country in the world. It has long land frontiers with Sweden, Norway and Russia. The climate is marked by cold winters and warm summers but temperatures in winter are moderated by the influence of the Baltic Sea and west winds from the Atlantic warmed by the Gulf Stream. The mean annual temperature in the capital, Helsinki, is 5.3 degrees Celsius. The highest daytime temperature in southern Finland during the summer occasionally rises close to 30 Celsius. During the winter months, particularly in January and February, temperatures of minus 20 Celsius are not uncommon.

In the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for about 73 days, producing the white nights of summer. In the same region, during the dark winter period, the sun remains below the horizon for 51 days, creating the polar night known in Finnish as kaamos.

Of the population, 93.4% speak Finnish as their native language, whereas Swedish is the native language of 5.9% of the population. Both Finnish and Swedish are official languages of Finland. English is widely spoken but also German is quite commonly spoken, particularly among the elderly people.

Finland and the EU  including links to Finnish government sites and Tourist Information

Legal: It is advisable to use a solicitor to check through the sale agreement when buying property. The solicitor will run checks with the local council read survey reports and sign for completion of contracts.

The solicitor will correspond with the Estate Agent in negotiation of the purchase price before the buyer and seller sign the final document contracts. The solicitor/lawyer will notarise them on your behalf and issue the official owner document.

Transfer tax must be paid, at the latest, when applying for registration of the deed and title to the acquired real estate. The transfer tax rate is 4%. If the registration has not been applied for, or such an application is unnecessary, the tax must be paid within six months of concluding the transfer contract.

Taxes: Capital gains tax on the sale of property situated in Finland are taxed at 29%. The capital gain is calculated by subtracting the acquisition cost from the disposal proceeds. Individuals and the estates of deceased persons are allowed a minimum deduction of 20%. If the property has been owned for more than ten years, the minimum deduction is 50%. When selling real property that includes buildings and/or structures, the sales price has to be broken down to reflect which portion is attributable to the land and which portion is attributable to the buildings/structures and the technical equipment permanently affixed thereon. In principle, losses related to real estate are tax deductible. If the property has not been used for business purposes, the loss attributable to it may be offset against any capital gains realised on the real estate during the current and following 3 financial years.

There is a separate municipal tax on property. The tax is payable by those who own the taxable property at the beginning of the calendar year, even if they are non-resident investors. The tax rate is based on the taxable value of each individual estate. The general rate may vary between 0.3% and 1.0%. For permanent residences, the tax rate may vary between 0.15% - 0.50%. Municipalities decide annually, within agreed limits, what percentage will be used in their particular municipality.

Property is tax deductible, provided that the property has been used for rental or business purposes. All property of the taxpayer is subject to net wealth tax. However, a resident, Limited Liability Company is not liable to this net wealth tax. For resident individuals the capital tax is levied at a rate of 0.9% of the taxable net wealth exceeding FIM 1,100,000. As an exception to this general rule, non-resident individuals are taxed on any net wealth exceeding FIM 800,000.

Most restrictions on Foreign Ownership have been abolished.

Loans/Mortgages: Mortgage providers in Finland grant mortgage loans up to 75% of the value of the property, usually with fixed rate option periods for repayment. Payment terms are pretty flexible, the average being around 20 years.

 

 

Rentals: Finland law and practice is neutral between landlord and tenants.

Tenancies are generally unregulated. Landlord and tenant may freely negotiate rents, but the courts may reduce the existing rent if it significantly exceeds the current average market rate charged on comparable apartments in the area.



Tenant Security: The landlord must give a termination notice of at least six months if the tenancy has continuously existed for more than a year, and a three month notice is mandatory for leases existing for less than a year.

The parties cannot agree to allow the landlord unilaterally to increase the rent during the contract’s validity, unless the parties have agreed the grounds on which the rent may be increased. However, rent can be linked to an index such as consumer price index or cost of living index, or a combination of an index and an additional clause stipulating a minimum adjustment (to ensure an annual increase of rent). But for fixed-term agreements of less than three years, index clauses are null and void.

Landlords may not require more than three months’ rent as a deposit. The sum must be returned with interest at contract termination, if the tenant has fulfilled his obligations.

Landlord-tenant relations are guided by the Act on Residential Leases of 1995, introduced by the post-1991 Conservative government, which installed an unregulated regime for all apartments across the country. Rents and rent increases in both types of tenancy are guided by the Act on Indexing Restrictions.

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Disclaimer: This guide is for information only and should not be relied upon as definitive. Details have been obtained from various sources and although we have done everything possible to ensure that it is correct, we cannot accept responsibility for it or guarantee its accuracy. This is because processes and laws change frequently, and may vary dependant upon personal circumstances. You are welcome to use the information provided, but should always obtain confirmation of specific details and get independent specialist and legal advice in the country that the information refers to.

08-11-2009