September’s moving day

Story: Anni Pajari, Photo: Mari Mansikkamäki

Summer and autumn are the busiest times at the Soihtu Housing service point. In the summer when applicants receive information about their new study places, housing applications are processed dozens a day. In July, rent agreements are made and questions from applicants are answered by e-mail, telephone and face to face at the Vehkakuja service point.

This fall, more than 450 new rental agreements were signed. The first day of September, which this story focuses on, is one of the busiest moving days of the year.

“Because the busiest days are usually predictable, we prepare carefully in advance,” explains Katri Leppänen.

She came to the Soihtu Housing service point in the spring of 2021 to complete her internship to finish the degree in business. In the autumn, the trainee’s title changed to service secretary, when Katri was hired as a temp at the service point.

Depending on the time of the year, two to four employees do customer service work at the service point. In addition, the Housing team consists of a service manager who acts as a team leader and a community manager who is responsible also for Soihtu’s tenant advising.

Apartment inspections and juggling with the keys

There are many things to do before opening the service point for customers. The keys returned by the tenants moving away are picked up from the mailbox, marked as returned and an inspection is booked for the apartment. There may be dozens of keys returned on the moving day. Katri checks the email and starts replying to messages. The maintenance staff pops in to exchange a few words before leaving to do apartment inspections.

At ten, the doors are opened, and the first customers come in and take their turn numbers. The key cards are pre-coded so that the distribution of the keys goes smoothly. The tenants have also been contacted in advance by email regarding the moving day schedule and practices.

The busiest moment of the day is around midday, which is both the deadline for the tenants moving away to return their keys and the time for new tenants to come pick up the keys to their future home.

“It’s important to me to serve customers in a way that they don’t see the busyness around us. The situation is unique for each new tenant, and the level of service must be the same for everyone,” says Katri.

The joy of a home of your own

Despite careful preparation in advance, there are always unpredictable situations on moving days that need to be resolved quickly. From the beginning of her internship, Katri recalls a particularly challenging situation where an agitated customer demanded a rent reduction, which a service point employee cannot grant. For example, decisions regarding an unfinished complaint process cannot be made either, but when necessary, customers are directed to the right party with their questions.

“We work closely with the tenant advisor and people in maintenance, rent control and IT support”, says Katri.

When the doors close at 3 pm, the turn number display shows that 90 people visited the service point today.

“The best thing about my job is making the everyday life easier for students. It’s also wonderful to see the sincere joy of the tenants moving into their own home,” Katri concludes.

The text has been published in Kylä-Magazine 2/2021.

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