Developers in Hanko – Finland – build easily rentable hybrid apartments

Original text: Rakennuslehti 16.4.2021, article by Johanna Aatsalo, translation by Katariina Benedetti.

Close to the railway station of the sunniest city of Finland, Hanko, newly built apartments are rising. During the construction process, developers have particularly taken into account the use of the flats for vacation purposes. The condominium chose to install a locking system that converts smartphones into keys. The system developed in Finland makes dwellers’ lives easier, as handing over sets of keys can sometimes be complicated in a town well-known as a summer vacation destination. “It’s not uncommon for residents to first drive from the Helsinki metropolitan area for an hour and a half to then realise they have forgotten their keys to their second house”, says Ian Eric Wadén from the housing cooperative Hangon Liiketalo. 

According to Wadén, choosing this locking system facilitates the rentability process. After exploring several options, the Helsinki entrepreneur working in the parking business picked the mobile access service for the condominium.

makes dwellers’ lives easier, as handing over sets of keys can sometimes be complicated in a town well-known as a summer vacation destination
An app developed by former Nokia employees

This condominium is the first in Finland to use the mobile access system app created by former Nokia product developers. The app allows residents to move through different areas in the building freely and permits the owners to grant access, for example, to renters or cleaning crews. Access can be programmed and expires automatically.   

“I believe this is exactly the solution that supports apartment rental needs of which there is a strong need at the moment. Thanks to the application, there is no need to rush to get a set of keys on time from somewhere”, Wadén says.

The smartphone application developed by Bitwards relies on technology developed by security companies, and according to auditing and data security companies, it is safe and reliable. The locks do not require an internet connection to function, they are easy to install, and there are no information security risks. There is not even the need for wires. 

“Everything works offline. An encrypted token, which is different every time, is exchanged between a smartphone and the lock and works as the opening code. The phone and the lock connect via Bluetooth, as does the connection between the phone and the server on the cloud. The lock itself is, therefore, never connecting to the web”, explains Bitwards technology expert Jonna Erämaa. 

The mobile key is a code that apartment owners can send to the phone of renters, and it works according to the specifications given by the resident, for instance, for the duration of a holiday period. As the system works offline, there is no need to worry about poor mobile network coverage, for example, in underground parking or isolated areas.  If the smartphone’s battery is empty, the phone cannot be used to access doors. However, the smart service automatically provides a code to another smartphone; the user simply needs to log in with his/her credentials.

Finnish Bitwards created a unique solution that can equip any lock and door worldwide.

Image by Debar Shiray @ Flickr

Price per square meter in Hanko as high as in exclusive areas in Helsinki

The apartments developed by Hangon Liiketalo will rise on a plot of land previously occupied by a commercial property built in the 1980-’90. According to Wadén, it would have been too expensive to renovate the old building. There is a dire need for rental apartments in Hanko, and the permits to construct a condominium that could combine permanent residence apartments and vacation rentals came quickly. The planning committee carefully considered not blocking the light from the old neighbouring residential wooden building to prevent discussions and delays. “Affordable living is limited in Hanko. South of the railway, the price per square meter is around 8000€, in this building it’s 5000€”, Wadén tells us.

In the new complex, there are primarily apartments of 40-50 square meters. At the end of March, most of the flats of the first-built block were reserved. Local people in Hanko were fascinated by the 3-storey high elevator, as that’s quite the exception in buildings on the south side of the railway. “The flats are not very big because they are for people to come and spend their holidays here. Usually, in Hanko, holidaymakers spend much more time outside than inside their homes”.