Living in Finland permanently means that you have an actual home in Finland and that you mainly live in Finland. In order to receive housing allowance, you must also have a right to Kela benefits.
More information is available on InfoFinland webpage Finnish social security.
Kela’s housing-related benefits include:
- general housing allowance
- housing allowance for pensioners
- housing assistance for conscripts and civil service men
Usually, you can only receive one type of housing allowance at a time.
You may also be entitled to other Kela benefits. If all your income and resources and the allowances granted to you do not cover your expenses, you can apply for income support from Kela.
Read more about income support on InfoFinland page Financial problems.
Kela’s general housing allowance
The allowance is available either for an individual person or a household (ruokakunta). People permanently living in the same dwelling belong to the same household. Normally, a household refers to a married couple, an unmarried couple living together or a family. A single person may also constitute a household. Housing allowance is granted to a household jointly, based on a single application.
Take into consideration that if you live with a friend, for example, and you have a joint tenancy agreement, you will be considered as belonging to the same household. If, on the other hand, you live at the same address with another person and you both have your own separate tenancy agreements, you must explain in your application whether you are in a common-law relationship or not. Do the same if you have a sublet.
General housing allowance is available to
- families with children
- married couples and those in registered partnership
- unmarried couples living together
- those living alone or
- those living in a community
What kinds of housing costs are accepted?
Housing allowance can be granted for a permanent dwelling in Finland. The law stipulates which housing costs can be accepted when calculating housing allowance. The dwelling can be
- a rental dwelling
- an owner-occupied dwelling
- a right-of-occupancy dwelling
- a part-ownership dwelling
You can receive support for rent or maintenance charges, water charges and heating costs, for example. A part of mortgage interest is also considered.
Housing allowance is granted for reasonable housing costs. In big towns, higher housing costs are accepted than in smaller ones.
Kela will not pay for all housing costs
You need to pay part of your housing costs yourself. A so-called basic deductible (perusomavastuu) is determined for this purpose. The amount of the basic deductible depends on
- the number of adults and children belonging to the household
- the combined gross income in the household (income before taxes)
With very low incomes, no basic deductible needs to be paid.
When the amount of your housing allowance is calculated, EUR 300 of your earned income per month is deducted. This amount does not affect the amount of your housing allowance. This amount is called the earned-income deduction (ansiotulovähennys). The earned-income deduction is made separately for each member of the household.
Housing costs have an upper limit, i.e. the maximum amount of housing costs in euros, on the basis of which you can receive the housing allowance. This amount is called the maximum housing costs (enimmäisasumismenot). They are affected by:
- the municipality in which the housing is located
- the number of adults and children in the household.
If your home is more expensive than the limit specified in the Housing Allowance Act, you will have to pay a greater share of your housing costs.
The general housing allowance is 80% of the eligible housing costs, after deducting the basic deductible. If you spend less money on housing than the eligible housing costs, the allowance amount is calculated on the basis of actual expenditure.
Notify Kela of changes
If there are changes to your income, living arrangement, family situation or other circumstances, notify Kela about these changes without delay. Kela’s decision provides detailed information on which changes to notify.
Applying for housing allowance
You can apply for general housing allowance with the Kela form Application for Housing Allowance (AT1). You can also apply for general housing allowance online.
You also need to enclose
- a copy of your tenancy agreement and a document showing the amount of your rent (for rental dwellings)
- documentation on maintenance charges and mortgage (for owner-occupied dwellings)
- if you live in a community, authorisation (proxy) from other residents for applying for housing allowance on everyone's behalf.
Send the application to Kela’s office or fill in the application online. Kela serves its customers in local offices, by telephone, by mail and through online services. When running your personal errands in Kela’s office, you need to present a proof of identity, for example your passport.