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Housing Overview

For renting and buying, the best place to start your search is real estate websites like www.kv.ee, www.city24.ee and www.kuldnebors.ee, which are also available in English.

The best place to start searching are the real estate websites www.kv.ee, www.city24.ee and www.kuldnebors.ee. They are all available in English and feature both rental and purchasable  properties.

There’s also a very useful Facebook group for connecting private landlords with tenants without getting letting agency involved (a cheaper and a hassle free option). Of course, you can also use real estate agency services, like Pindi, Rime, Uusmaa, and Domus.

Tips: 

When visiting a property, don’t be afraid to ask your future neighbors some questions about the living conditions.

Definitely ask whether the building has an active and engaged apartment cooperative (“korteriühistu” in Estonian).

Oh, and inquire into the scale of heating expenses in winter! Just ask to see the utility bills from last winter. And try not to look shocked.

Renting

The best way to rent a house or a flat is to contact a real estate agency.  The Estonian Association of Real Estate Companies has a list of trusted estate agencies.

The best place to start searching are the real estate websites www.kv.ee, www.city24.ee and www.kuldnebors.ee. They are all available in English and feature both rental and purchaseable properties. Of course, you can also use real estate agency services, like Pindi, Rime, Uusmaa, and Domus.

When you find your perfect flat or a house, consult a real estate professional in order to understand the lease agreement in detail before signing it.

The lease may be concluded for a fixed or an unspecified term. You can freely negotiate on the rental period with the owner. You have to pay a security deposit that is usually equivalent to 1-3 months of rent. You’ll get the deposit back when moving out.

Rental payments are usually paid at the beginning of each month. It is possible that the landlord will ask you for an advance payment when you’re signing the rent agreement. 

Payments for utilities are also written down in the lease. Sometimes, some utilities are included in the rental price, but in most cases you will need to pay them separately. 

The utilities make up quite a considerable part of the housing-related expenses. In a two-room (one bedroom) flat, the utilities can easily be around €80/summer and €180/winter.  Always ask to see past utility bills for both summer and winter months.

On taxes & fees:

– If you’re renting from a business operator, value added tax (VAT; sales tax) may be added to the rental payments. 

– Taxes related to the property are usually paid by the landlord.

– Real estate agency fees are usually equivalent to one month’s rent and paid by the tenant, unless agreed otherwise.

Buying

The best place to start searching for real estate are the real estate websites kv.ee, city24.ee and www.kuldnebors.ee. They are all available in English.

Buying property in Estonia is a straightforward and a relatively speedy process. Non-residents and foreign companies are allowed to buy property in Estonia on the same terms as residents. 

At first, a sale-purchase agreement has to be concluded and notarised. During that same time:

– a purchase deposit of 10% is usually required,

– the transfer of title is completed.

You will then have to pay the stamp duty and the official registration will be completed. 

To transfer the ownership of property and to make the title legally valid you have to submit a notarised application to the Land Register. This process normally takes about 65 days. 

See here for a list of notaries available to help you. 

If you’re not from the EU or EEA, or your company that is a party to the deal is registered outside the EU and EEA, you’re allowed to buy a house or plot of land with the permission of the local authorities. In most cases, buying a flat has no restrictions.

Utilities

Electricity

Estonia has an open electricity market. This means you can choose the cheapest supplier. 

The electricity price is set by a combination of the exchange price, your electricity consumption and competition. There is also a network service fee added to your bill. VAT is always added to the electricity price.

When renting a house or a flat, you can sign a contract with a service provider or agree with the landlord about electricity payments if the contract remains under the landlord’s name. 

If you buy a house or a flat, choose the most suitable package for you. Check Energiaturg.ee for choosing the best price.

The standard electricity supply in Estonia is 220 volts and 50 Hz, and the plugs in here are the continental European two-pin type.

Natural gas

The natural gas supply in Estonia is provided by a single supplier: Eesti Gaas. If you rent a house or a flat that uses gas for heating, the owner has a gas purchase contract and you have to agree with the owner about gas payments. If you want to sign an individual service contract with Eesti Gaas, you’ll  need a copy of the lease agreement or proof of ownership.

Water

Every residence is usually registered with the local water and sewage company. Each address has a single supplier. 

When you move into your new home, your water meter will be read and the reading set as the initial reading of your service contract. If your residence is located in an apartment building, the water and sewage service is arranged by the cooperative housing association or the real estate management company. 

If you rent a house, you need to sign a contract with a service provider or agree with the landlord about your payments.

Recycling

Most residential buildings have a selection of different waste containers: general waste, paper/cardboard and biodegradable waste.

Recyclable, sorted waste can be taken to public containers: green containers for glass, blue containers for paper, yellow containers for mixed packages (plastic, metal), red containers for clothes.

There are public containers for free disposal of packaging waste all over Estonia.

When buying bottled or canned drinks you’ll often pay a small deposit. That deposit is refundable when you return the empty bottles or cans to the return vending machines, located in most shops. You will receive a receipt from the machine that you can use to pay for your purchase or exchange for cash in the grocery shop. 

Registering your place of residence

As a newcomer in Estonia, you must also register your place of residence at your local government service office. As an EU citizen you must do it within three months after arrival, as a non-EU citizen within 30 days after receiving your residence permit. Even though as a tenant you have a right to register your place of residence in your new home, it is best to confirm this with the landlord in advance.

Getting around

Address. In Estonia, houses are usually even-numbered on one side and odd-numbered on the other side of the street. Counting generally begins from this end of the street that is closer to the city center.

Floors and levels. When entering a multi-story building, the ground floor on the street level is called “1. korrus” (1st floor). Moving up, you will reach the “2. korrus” and so on. So, for example, the British 4th floor is “5. korrus” in Estonian.