The Estonian real estate market is characterized by a very high level of home ownership and the rental market has a minority share. The best way to rent a house or an apartment is to contact real estate agencies. The Estonian Association of Real Estate Companies has a list of trusted estate agencies. In any case, rental agreements are regulated by law in order to protect your interests as the tenant.
The rental properties vary from basic to luxurious, but in most cases, they’re clean, modern and safe.
There is also a Facebook group for connecting private landlords with tenants looking for an
easy, affordable letting solution without the hassle of dealing with a letting agency. For short term rentals, it’s also worth checking out Airbnb Estonia section.
When you have found your ideal apartment or house, you should 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 and you can freely negotiate on the rental period with the owner. A security deposit is usually equivalent to one to three months of rent and the landlord keeps the deposit in a separate bank account, earning at least the local average interest. The deposit is supposed to be paid back to you upon the termination of the lease, together with the earned interest, unless the landlord has a right to keep the amount in order to satisfy a claim for damage or unpaid rent or utilities.
Rental payments are usually paid at the beginning of each month via bank transfer and the payment due date is fixed in the contract. It is possible that the landlord will ask you for an advance payment when you’re signing the lease. Some landlords also prefer rent payment in cash; in this case you should keep a written and signed record of your payments.
The utilities payment is also regulated 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) apartment, the utilities can easily be around €80/summer and €180/winter. You should always ask to see past utility bills for both summer and winter months.
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 paid by the landlord, unless agreed otherwise. Real estate agency fees are usually equivalent to one month’s rent and paid by the tenant, unless agreed otherwise.