First: don’t panic. No, finding accomodation from your home country won’t be a piece of cake, especially because you don’t know the city and won’t be able to see your potential home beforehand; but it isn’t impossible either, so get in action and start trying to find a roof over your head as soon as possible. The good news is that Tallinn doesn’t have such a saturated market and rents are not so expensive (compared to other European capitals), so there is hope :).
Accommodation in Tallinn Facebook Group
Probably the most used source of information is the Facebook group Accommodation in Tallinn. Offers can be found there throughout the year, especially from other international students who are already living in Tallinn and need more roommates or are leaving their flat.
Beware of scams! If you come accross some posts advertising flats with a very generic description, with no address, no price and no photos, be suspicious. People who want to rent a flat will give you that information to try to rent it.
Unfortunately, currently there are mostly posts about people who are also looking for a flat like you, so that might not be useful. Don’t expect a flat offer to fall from the sky; instead, actively look for one. Real estate websites will most likely charge for a broker’s fee, so yeah, that’s not cool, but at the same time it will probably be your best (and safest) chance of getting a place so it will be money well spent. And if you find some more people to share a potential flat with you, you can also share those costs. But just in case, be prepared to spend some money on broker’s fees, safety deposits and/or first month of rent.
Much more important and useful information (it’s long, I know, but worth the read!)
Mari-Liis, a lovely girl from ESN Tallinn compiled the following information which is very, very useful (it’s also on the Accommodation in Tallinn facebook group). It is a long read but it will be very helpful and it has some great advice, so please take some time to read it through. And thank you, Mari-Liis and ESN for letting us share this!
(Full credit of the following text goes completely to her).
Things you should know before renting an apartment
You are starting your semester in Tallinn and first thing you need is accommodation. So here are some tips and things what you should pay attention to:
- Make a budget. Think through what kind of apartment you want to rent. Ask yourself a question – Do you want to rent a hostel place or an apartment? Or you want to get place in dormitory? Do you want to rent apartment together with someone or alone? These are your first concerns. Also keep it in mind that it will cost you more to rent apartment in the city center alone. (or the closer you get to the center)
- You have made your decision, yay. Now it’s time to look through some ads and pages to find yourself the perfect place for the semester.
- If you are trying to find place in a hostel, write to them directly and ask for a long period fee info. Most of hostels have discounts, if you stay longer.
Here are list of some places you can check:
At FB you can find information from these sites:
Here are list of hostels you can check out:
These are some of ESN partners in Tallinn you can check out:
You can find more info from our web page about discounts with ESN card:
There are many people, who try to cheat and scam you. Remember – renting an apartment is a legal process. Everything should be written down beforehand. So here are some things you should keep your eyes open when renting an apartment.
First things first
Remember to check out if the owner really owns this apartment. Easiest is to google him or her ☺ There is also this place you can check owner out, but to do that you need to pay small fee (You could ask your tutor for help with the website):
Make sure that the landlord has the owner’s authorization. Sometimes owner and landlord are not the same person.
Always read not only the contract itself, but all the fine print. Read everything mentioned in the document. If you don’t understand something ask from someone you trust. Let someone translate the document, if needed. You should not give or send out any money beforehand. Check apartment before you move in with owner or a representative of the owner. Mark down all things you find unacceptable, like broken pipe in the kitchen or dripping shower etc. Also it is good to put into lease all furniture, electronics and other stuff what are in the apartment. It makes it later easier to check, if everything is still attached ☺ Make sure what are yours and the owner’s responsibilities. They should be written down in the contract. Check out the utilities part in the contract. All starting numbers should be written into contract like electricity, water, gas etc. These numbers are added to contract from the day you start your apartment leasing, if you don’t have any other agreement with the owner. Utility bill usually has some extra fees like repair fund etc. This should be also in the contract, if you have to pay full apartment maintenance costs. If there are mentioned only gas, electricity, water and heat, then the owner can’t ask you for extra fees.
To take all these things together here is list what should be written down in the rental agreement:
- Description of the object (including an accurate inventory of furniture)
- The amount of rent and payment procedures
- Additional costs (utility bills), calculation and payment procedures
- Contract period and the termination of the contract, including the early termination and the arrangements if that happens.
- Your and landlord obligations and rights
- Furnishings (furniture, equipment) preservation and the returning obligations.
If you have signed a fixed-term lease, the landlord can raise the rent only once a year. If it is at least a three-year contract, the extent of the increase in rent and the calculating method have to be clearly indicated in the contract also.
Securing your first apartment
A lease is a legally binding document. Be certain that you understand what’s covered in a residential lease agreement. Ask your landlord, or a lawyer any questions before signing a lease.
One-time fees such as security, pet, and utilities deposits can add up. Your first month in a new apartment can easily reach up to 800 euros. The good news: If you take care of the property, and abide by the lease, you should get some, or all, of your deposits back when you move.
After everyone has signed or co-signed the lease agreement with the landlord, it’s a good idea for you and any roommates to sign a co-tenancy agreement. Spelling out responsibilities and liabilities for each person can prevent legal problems down the road.
Inspect your new apartment. Write down any concerns or necessary repairs. This allows you to notify the landlord about problems, and get them fixed right away.
As a tenant, it’s your right to live in a safe and habitable environment. Both you and your landlord have certain maintenance responsibilities for the apartment.
To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to put your tenant repair requests in writing. Within a reasonable length of time, your landlord has an obligation to respond. If you need to make a complaint to your landlord, again, do it in writing (great if you also keep a copy of it yourself with the date marked on it).
Never let a structural defect, health hazard, or community concern just sit. Telling your landlord about problems immediately can protect you from liability when you move out.
Even if you do everything right, sometimes the landlord-tenant relationship isn’t straightforward. If you ever need help protecting your rights as a tenant you can contact your university contact, your tutor, a local ESN section or a lawyer.
Sharing an apartment
You have found really cool apartment, but discovered that monthly fee is too much. Plan – find someone who is willing to share the costs. Before you are going down this road, you should be aware of some things. Sharing apartment is good, but owner or landlord should also know how many people is living there. Always contact to your landlord and make sure they are OK with it. It also helps prevent later problems with your landlord. In some cases landlord actually already have separate rooms for sharing apartment. They are looking themselves people to share apartment. This info is usually mentioned in the add also. There are some things you should keep in mind – first of all Contract. Even in co-renting with someone there should always be contract. Contract form is usually same as renting apartment alone. There can be one main contract and contract for every tenancy separately. In this case, ask to see main contract also. Remember, renting apartment together means you share responsibilities. Being late more than 2 times means landlord can cancel your contract. This should be also mentioned in the contract.
Most of the times people already living in an apartment looking someone to share their expenses. They hold main contract and usually are the one’s, who pay all expenses. They take care contacting with landlord and making sure everything is ok. Main contract holder have also more to worry about. Be nice to them. They have taken huge risk to share living space with someone. If you are late with your payment someone else has to pay your share also. Make sure you meet all tenancies before signing your lease. Check out apartment and conditions. Always ask to see apartment beforehand. If something seems too good to be true it usually is. Never pay anything until you have not seen apartment, contract and people sharing this place with you. In dormitories there are supervisors, but in apartment it’s really hard to manage, if you don’t trust other tenancies. If you can’t check place out yourself, ask help from your local coordinator.
Hope this small overview gave you some ideas and ways how to manage in Tallinn.
Be careful and good luck with your accommodation search ☺