Below is a summary of the Finnish Landlord Association’s competition law guidelines.
Strict compliance with competition law is an important fabric of social responsibility for an industry association. It also helps ensure that the rights of the association’s members are protected. A violation of competition law may lead to lengthy and arduous investigations and fines that may total up to 10% of the total turnover of the association and its member base.
Private landlords are also subject to competition law
Competition law applies to all business activities regardless of their juridical form or whether they aim to make profit. A private landlord is also considered a ”business,” even if they only lease out one or few apartments and even if their activities do not qualify as a business from the perspective of tax administration. Competition law forbids any agreements between businesses that prevent or restrict competition. This covers all mutual agreements, both verbal and in writing. Even silent approval of agreements made by others is considered partaking in an agreement.
Price fixing and discussing prices is forbidden
Each landlord should determine their rental prices and agreement terms independently. All agreements or discussions between landlords concerning rental prices, additional charges, increases to either, or any other terms related to prices are forbidden. Market sharing is also forbidden. Landlords may not make joint decisions on e.g. boycotts or share customers.
Involvement in association activities is permitted
Interacting with the Finnish Landlord Association is permitted. In the involvement is specifically related to an industry association, landlords are allowed to discuss general matters related to their industry, including legislation, agree on shared supervision of interests, prepare template agreements and compile statistics. Members can also provide information to the association for the purpose of compiling statistics.
Price recommendations not permitted
Competition law forbids industry associations from providing price recommendations. Prohibited price recommendations include recommending specific price levels or price increases to members, publishing overly specific price statistics, or employing template agreements, pricing instructions or calculators that cause price alignment.
Compilation of statistics
Industry associations are permitted to collect and publish statistics related to their industry. Compilation of statistics is permitted when the information concerned does not disclose information regarding an individual business or member, when the information concerns the past, and when the statistics do not contain any information related to future pricing (such as future price increases).
Industry associations are permitted to prepare template agreements and make them available for their members. Template agreements are permitted if the terms therein are non-discriminatory and do not include price recommendations, such as pre-filled price increase percentages or rent levels.
Industry associations are allowed to provide pricing aids for their members. Provision of pricing aids is permitted as long as the calculators do not provide price recommendations. Calculators are allowed to calculate tax and social contributions and use margin and profitability formulas where each user enters their own parameters or values. Pre-set defaults for calculating price, margin or profitability are not permitted.
What should I do if I observe activities that violate competition law?
If you observe anything violating competition law either directly in what the Finnish Landlord Association does or what its members do, protest immediately and excuse yourself from the meeting or event. If the meeting is an official one, request that the chairman records both your protest and exit. Always report your observation to the Finnish Landlord Association’s managing director or Chief Legal Officer.