Guide to renting a property in the Netherlands including types of housing, where to find rental listings, advice about Dutch leases, fees to be paid and where to turn when problems go unresolved…
Residential properties in the Netherlands fall into four basic categories…
– Social housing for lower-income residents/families
– Senior housing for the elderly
– Student housing for college and university students
– Private housing for all the vast majority of residents including most expats
Where to look for apartment/home rentals?
There are several places in Holland one can look to for property rental listings including…
– LOCAL DUTCH NEWSPAPERS particularly the weekend editions. Property agents commonly advertise one or more units they have available in these local and regional papers. The agent’s contact information will be included in the ad. Contact him/her to set up a viewing appointment.
– HOUSING AGENTS typically post pictures and details about available properties they have in their office windows (as well as online). Properties for rent are designated ‘Te Huur’ while properties for sale will say ‘Te Koop’. Most housing agents are happy to perform property searches for you based on the parameters you provide (price range, number of rooms, bathrooms, neighborhood or district preference, if parking is needed, how close to public transport it needs to be, proximity to a certain school your child will be attending, etc). Housing agents do charge a fee which can vary but commonly is equal to one month’s rent. For newly arriving expats who do not have the time to search themselves, or have a substantial number of requirements, the services of a housing agent may prove beneficial in the long run.
– PROPERTY WEBSITES are an excellent starting point to see examples of what is available. The websites are usually either national, covering all of the Netherlands or regional, covering a metropolitan area or a group of adjacent villages.
Funda is the largest property website in the country as it is the one attached to the largest real estate agent association NVM (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Makelaars). Approximately 70% of Dutch estate agents are NVM members.
Pararius is another large property website with listings across the country.
123 Wonen is headquartered in Groningen but has offices across the Netherlands. They have English-language information for expats.
Types of Rented Accommodation
Rentals will be either furnished, part-furnished or unfurnished. If a listing makes no mention of furnishings, one can assume it is being offered unfurnished.
- Furnished (‘gemeubileerd’) apartment/home rentals will usually include key pieces of furniture along with standard appliances
- Semi-furnished (‘gestoffeerd’) rentals usually includes major kitchen appliances along with floor coverings and curtains
- Unfurnished (‘ongemeubileerd’) rentals are usually bare bones, but may include flooring, toilets, sinks and sometimes a stove. They rarely include major appliances such as refrigerators or washer/dryers.
Under Dutch tenancy laws, furnished apartments are treated like hotels, which means a tenant can be given short notice they must vacate. Unfurnished apartments offer the tenant more protection.
Documents required for leasing an apartment
The prospective tenant will need to provide:
- Proof of identity
- Payslip (‘salarisstrook’) or copy of an employment contract. Students need to show proof of school registration if they are entitled to Dutch study support.
Rental agreements will always be written in Dutch. A private property lease can be for a specific period of time (for example 1 year or 18 months) but more commonly will be open ended without an end date. If the notice period (i.e. the window from the time of notification to the landlord to the date the tenant moves out) is not stipulated, it automatically defaults to one month.
A standard Dutch rental lease will mention the following key points:
- Duration of lease
- Whether the accommodation is furnished/unfurnished
- Whether parking is included
- Whether utilities are included
- Whether there are additional service charges not included in the rent (such as maintenance of communal areas)
- Notice period
- What is considered normal wear and tear
A lease is meant to protect both the tenant and the landlord, so any relevant issues not covered in the rental agreement should be clarified and then added to the agreement as additional clauses.
It is best not to leave matters of importance open to interpretation, as it can lead to a dispute when you are getting ready to vacate. For example, if you replace a worn floor covering, will the landlord compensate you at the end of the lease? If not, and you decide to take it with you, you will likely need to relay the original worn covering otherwise your security deposit will be charged. This is why it is best to get agreements in writing before moving in. Contesting a dispute becomes far more difficult if you are doing it from another country.
Standard practice in the Netherlands is to pay the first month’s rent in advance. In addition a deposit (‘Borg’) equivalent to one or two months’ rent is usually required. If a housing agent provided services, his/her fee will need to be paid as well.
In some cases, an agent may negotiate with the landlord for the deposit to be offset against the last month or two of rent. Such an agreement is less common in the Netherlands than in other countries. Landlords want to protect themselves as much as possible, meaning it is more beneficial to them to have the entire security deposit at their disposal through the tenant’s move out which is when the final walk-through will occur. If there is damage noted, the landlord will want to deduct it from the security deposit rather than asking for a payment from a tenant who may be leaving the country shortly.
Make sure all payments are documented. Paying rent and move-in fees are best done by bank transfer to ensure there is a record of all payments.
– Service charges, if there are any, should be explained in the lease
– Insurance may or may not be included in the rental cost and again this should be detailed in the lease. It is always wise to get a ‘contents liability insurance policy’ in case the property is damaged or destroyed due to fire, leaks or theft.
– A real estate tax (‘onroerende-zaakbelastingen’ or OZB) is payable yearly to the local authorities. A lease for less than 12 months should include a reduced rate of this tax as part of the contract. The municipality sends out the annual assessment with the tax which is based on the market value or square footage of the property. The tax has two parts – the occupant’s part and the owner’s part. Owner-occupiers pay both parts. Rates will differ from one municipality to another. The OZB tax bill for property owners includes other municipal expenses such as the Sewer Tax (‘rioolrecht’) for use of the municipal sewer system and the Waste/Cleaning Tax (‘afvalstoffenheffing’/’reinigingsrechte’) for the collection of trash.
Both the landlord and the tenant have certain obligations in the Netherlands…
This should have been covered in the detailed lease, particularly with regard to the landlord’s agreement to replace or repair worn or faulty items or any requirement for the tenant to make good any defects caused by their negligence.
Make sure that any conditions regarding notice period are clear to both parties.
In the event of a dispute contact the leasing agent. All NVM-registered estate agents have professional indemnity coverage in the event they are found guilty of misconduct or negligence.
There is also the local bureau for legal assistance (‘Bureau voor Rechtshulp‘) which will offer legal assistance to residents with limited means.