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The capital region is notorious for its high rents, but some people in leading positions in companies are able to avoid paying these.The average person has no other option but to pay market prices for rent or take out a large mortgage.

During past decades, employers of large numbers of people owned entire blocks of houses and rented these company-owned dwellings out to the company’s own employees at a cheap rate. This guaranteed the availability of a workforce.

Renting properties to employees is no longer the done thing, and the houses have been sold. However, the company-owned flat isn’t a relic of the past and still lives on, prospering as a form of housing for company management.

“Nowadays, the company-owned dwelling is more often a fringe benefit for international experts or people in leading positions,” says Sales Director Petri Meckelborg of the real estate agency Vuokraturva.

Over three per cent rise in rents

• Last year, rents went up, on average, by 3.3 per cent in the whole country.

• The rents of capital-region houses unsupported by the state increased markedly quicker (5.2 per cent) than those located elsewhere in the country (2.7 per cent). For example, rents went up in Jyväskylä by only 0.5 per cent and in Lahti by 1.5 per cent.

• According to Statistics Finland, in the whole country rent per square metre for houses unsupported by the state was 10.74 euros. In the capital region, rent of over 14 euros per squared metre was paid, while in the rest of the country it was around 9.50 euros.

• So-called Arava flats, which are partly funded by cheap state loans, were 10.80 euros per squared metre in the capital region and just over nine euros elsewhere in the country.

The financial benefit company-owned housing brings is significant. For instance, according to Vuokraturva’s calculations, a 110 m2 four-bedroom house in the upmarket district of Kruununhaka in Helsinki that would normally cost 2,700 euros a month to rent has a value for tax purposes of only 1,240 euros a month. Moreover, the sum paid is treated like a salary when taxed. Therefore, if the person occupying the dwelling pays a 50 per cent rate of tax, like high earners do, the cost of the property for this person will be 620 euros. An average person living in the capital region will only get a 30 m2 studio apartment in Vantaa’s Myyrmäki for the same price.

Meckelborg doesn’t think that deceit is involved in the cheapness of company-owned properties; the state simply wants to support cheap accommodation, he says.

...

ANTTI AUTIO – STT
ALLAN BAIN – HT
LEHTIKUVA - ANTTI AIMO-KOIVISTO

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