The transition to general housing allowance has caused difficulties for students living together, since students living under joint lease agreements are interpreted by Kela as a single household. This means that students who live together apply for housing allowance together, and the allowance is determined by their total income. As a solution to the problem, many students have drafted separate lease agreements or changed to a main tenant/subtenant arrangement.
In the private rental market, lessors seldom agree to make separate contracts for tenants, since from the lessor’s point of view, it is simpler and safer for the whole group to jointly pay for the rent. For AYY, making separate contracts is challenging, as it would practically require installing locks on the doors of bedrooms of two-room apartments and larger apartments, in which case living would resemble that in a shared apartment. The problem with this procedure is the gradual transformation of 2-room apartments (and larger apartments) into shared apartments. When a tenant would move out of an apartment shared by friends, AYY would pick the first person in the shared apartment queue to replace them if the conditions for a friend swap are not fulfilled. Consequently, apartments used as friend apartments would gradually become regular shared apartments. As a mode of living, shared apartments are not the preferred choice for many tenants, and they are seen rather as the last option and as a temporary housing solution. “Shared-apartmentization” would also be a challenge for AYY as a lessor, as tenant turnover is high in shared apartments, and each moving to and from an apartment causes wear and tear on the apartment, and the failure to maintain common facilities is a very common problem in shared apartments that keeps the housing office and the real estate sector busy. AYY will modify its housing stock through renovations so that shared apartments will be replaced by, for example, studio rooms in shared apartments, so that the apartments can better match the housing needs of students.
With AYY, applying for an apartment is based on a transparent queuing system governed by the housing regulation. The queuing system has been created so that there are no unjustified shortcuts; for example, a person who is not already a principal tenant in an AYY apartment cannot be suggested as a candidate for a friend swap. As a result, the transformation of apartments with two or more rooms into shared apartments cannot be prevented within the framework of the current regulation by allowing all friends to move to an apartment in a friend swap. All applicants for AYY’s apartments are equal, and the housing queue cannot be ignored just because a room would become free in an apartment shared by friends and the applicant knows one of the tenants.
According to the housing regulation, AYY’s two-bedroom and larger flats cannot be applied for alone. This means that AYY cannot, under the present regulation, allow a main tenant/subtenant arrangement to be carried out, where a two-room or bigger apartment would be leased to one of the principal tenants, who could then take anybody as their subtenant. In addition, living in AYY’s apartments has been considered as a member benefit, meaning that AYY has sought to provide housing to as many AYY members as possible. In a main tenant/subtenant arrangement, AYY cannot control whom the apartments are sub-leased to, meaning that the proportion of AYY’s tenants would likely decrease. Also, a main tenant/subtenant arrangement does not automatically guarantee that the tenants would form their own households according to KELA and thus be granted their own housing allowances.
AYY aims to make its friend and family apartment agreements more equal so that in the future, all residents of a friend apartment would be able to reside in the apartment for as long as at least one resident has a valid right of residence. Additionally, AYY is currently developing the possibility of seeking shared apartments together, allowing friends to live in the same apartment with separate leases. The housing regulation will also be reviewed and updated extensively next year, so changes in the subject matter are possible.
For further information, please contact Onni Lampi, Member of the Board (email: email@example.com, tel: 050 520 9444).