Information database

Non-discrimination in renting

In principle, private landlords are entitled to choose a tenant freely. However, the choice may not be made on a discriminatory basis. Private landlords are also required to comply with the prohibition of discrimination as stipulated in the Non-discrimination Act.

Selection of tenant must not be made on a discriminatory basis

The prohibition of discrimination in the Non-discrimination Act applies to both indirect and direct discrimination. Direct discrimination refers to treating a person differently from others because of a personal characteristic. On the other hand, indirect discrimination occurs when a seemingly neutral rule or policy puts someone at an unfair disadvantage due to their personal attribute. For example, requiring perfect command of the Finnish language from a prospective tenant even when the landlord is able to fully communicate in English is considered indirect discrimination. 

A decision to reject a prospective tenant may not be based on their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability. A prospective tenant must not be excluded from selection and showings solely due to e.g. their foreign background.

Based on case law, landlords are guilty of discrimination if they refuse to rent an apartment to a prospective tenant with Romani background, for instance.

Legitimate assessment grounds in tenant selection

Tenant selection shall be based on facts that are solely related to the lease and any associated obligations thereof. Such facts include, for instance, the tenant’s financial standing and matters related to tending to the apartment, such as having pets and smoking.

A payment default entry does not automatically mean that the lease will not be successful. However, the landlord has the right to perform a tenant credit check. This is due to the fact that the tenant’s financial standing and other matters related to fulfilling tenant obligations are considered acceptable assessment grounds in tenant selection. 

Thus, the landlord is allowed to ask potential tenants e.g. about their study or work situation and about any other people possibly moving in with them, as the lease decision may be based on this information. The information can be collected e.g. with our Contact information form for tenant.

Non-Discrimination Ombudsman promotes equality and prevents discrimination

Anyone subjected to discrimination is entitled to remedy from the perpetrator of the discrimination. In addition, the party that has been discriminated against has the right to demand compensation for damages. As regulated in the Criminal Code of Finland, discrimination related to business activities is a penal offence and may result in fines or maximum of six months imprisonment. 

In Finland, the authority promoting equality and preventing discrimination is called the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman. In practice, the work of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman consists of e.g. advisory services, solving individual cases, contributing to seeking reconciliation between parties, and educational duties. The ombudsman may also take an individual discrimination matter to the National Non-Discrimination and Equality Tribunal of Finland or to a court. 

For more information on the work of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman and on discrimination in general and efforts to address it is available on the website of the Non-Discrimination Ombudsman at