Anni Sinnemäki (Greens), the Deputy Mayor of Helsinki responsible for real estate and city planning, reminds that the city has not prohibited couch surfing.Tenants in city-owned rental units can host couch surfers as long as they create no disturbance to other residents, states Anni Sinnemäki (Greens), a Deputy Mayor of Helsinki.

The City of Helsinki, she said, does not monitor whether or not tenants in city-owned rental units offer their couch to tourists and requires no advance notice of such activity. “The city hasn't prohibited couch surfing and isn't actively looking into whether it's taking place. It hasn't been prohibited,” Sinnemäki announced.

Helsingin Sanomat wrote earlier this week that Jan Frimodig, a tenant in a city-owned rental unit, has taken payments from his guests despite the fact that couch surfing is officially defined as a free and reciprocal accommodation service provided to strangers.

Sinnemäki also revealed that the city has taken action in the case of Frimodig after being contacted by the housing company in question.

Frimodig, in turn, said that he has yet to be notified of any disturbance created by his guests. “The building is a small terraced house, so there isn't even any noise from the staircase. The housing company is a small community of kind people who all greet one another. I'd like to think that had there been any disturbance, I'd been contacted directly,” he said.

Similarly, no reference to disturbance is made in the official warning issued by the City of Helsinki. The city is according to Sinnemäki seeking a mutually acceptable resolution to the situation of the tenant.

Lessors are under Finnish regulations not allowed to interfere in the activities of tenants as long as they do not create any disturbance to neighbours, violate any laws or change the intended purpose of the unit. In certain cases, tenants may even be allowed to engage in commercial activities in the rental unit.

Anne Viita, the executive director at Finnish Tenants, adds that lessors are not allowed to intervene in the number of guests staying with their tenants or the length or frequency of the stays. Tenants are even allowed to take payments from their guests without the approval of the lessor, she adds.

“That, of course, may interest the taxman,” Viita reminds.

Kaisu Moilanen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: HS