A household typically comprises the persons sharing living quarters. This can be one or several persons. Kela pays the housing allowance to the household as a whole. From a general housing allowance point of view a person can only be a member of one household at the time.

Spouses always belong to the same household. The term ‘spouses’ refers to partners who are married or cohabiting.

Housing allowance can be applied for by one person on behalf of the entire household. The person applying is usually the person in whose name the rental agreement is or who owns the home.

Foreigners may be considered to be part of a household, if they are covered by the Finnish social security system. An exception to this is students who have come to Finland only for the purpose of studying. They are not eligible for general housing allowance and they are not considered to be members of a household as far as eligibility for general housing allowance is concerned.

If you apply for a benefit for the first time after moving to Finland and your entitlement to benefits provided by Kela has not yet been determined, you should complete form Y 77e ‘Application – Social security coverage when moving to Finland’ and submit it with your application to Kela. Read more. 

Based on the information received, Kela decides who is considered to be a member of the household. It is therefore important to list all occupants in the application for housing allowance.

Type of rental agreement and cohabitation affect the housing allowance

  • If you rent a home with another person on a joint rental agreement, you are part of the same household. This means that friends sharing a home are one household.
  • if you rent a home on separate rental agreements, you each form your own household unless you are a married or cohabiting couple or close relatives, or the rental agreement or any appendix to it defines you as jointly responsible for paying the rent.
    • If you live together with another person, and you each have separate rental agreements or you are a subtenant, you must in the application for housing allowance describe your circumstances, i.e., indicating whether you are roommates or a cohabiting couple.
    • Based on your description, Kela will decide whether you are cohabiting or sharing housing.
    • Kela makes the decision based on the available information, and also does a case-by-case evaluation, taking into account such factors as the reasons for moving together, the age of the residents, the size of the dwelling, the duration of co-residence and whether the residents have lived together in the past.

Considered to be part of the same household are, for instance

  • the persons permanently sharing a home
  • a married or cohabiting couple living in the same dwelling
  • a married couple living separately
    • For example a spouse who lives in another town for reasons of employment, study or conscript service is considered to be a member of the household.
  • close family members sharing a home
    • This includes grandparents, parents and children. All are part of the same household regardless of any rental or maintenance agreements which may exist.
  • the persons having rented a home under a joint rental agreement
    • They are considered to make up a so-called communal household even if they do not share a household.
  • persons having rented a home under separate rental agreements if the agreement or an appendix to it specifies that they are jointly responsible for paying rent.
  • persons temporarily absent from the household
    • A temporary absence may be due to studies, a work assignment in Finland or other employment reasons, military or alternative civil service, or a period of hospitalisation or incarceration. An absence is usually considered to be temporary if it lasts no more than a year.
  • students living with their parents
    • Students living with their parents are part of their parental household.

Not considered to be part of the same household are, for instance

  • persons who have a separate lease for a part of the dwelling
    • If each of the persons sharing a dwelling has a separate lease, and they are not a couple or close relatives and do not pay rent for the entire dwelling, they are not considered to be part of the same household.
  • adult children who have moved to live on their own
    • In situations like this, adult children who move to live on their own are no longer part of their parents' household.
  • main tenant or owner of the dwelling and a subtenant of either of them
    • If a tenant signs a separate rental agreement with the main tenant or owner of a dwelling for part of the dwelling (one room for instance), the agreement is considered to be a sublease agreement. The subtenant is considered to belong to a different household than the main tenant or owner, unless they are a couple or close relatives.
  • siblings sharing a home
    • If the siblings each have their own rental agreement with the landlord or if one of them is the other's subtenant.
  • spouses who are legally separated

Read more