Renting a property in the Netherlands

Renting a property in the Netherlands

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Looking to rent an apartment or house in the Netherlands? Read about the quirks of the Dutch rental market to avoid any renting pitfalls.

Rules for renting a house in the Netherlands can be complicated and many Dutch rental properties are social housing with restricted allocation. First-time renters need to take care when choosing a property to rent in the Netherlands. Knowing the quirks and rules of the Dutch rental market can help you avoid renting an illegal property, and give you an idea of where to search for rental properties and what to expect when signing a rental contract.

Guide to renting a house or apartment in the Netherlands

Just over 40 percent of Dutch people rent their homes, and the country has a high level of social housing. Rents are assessed and controlled for low-value properties, and in some areas there are restrictions on who is allowed to live where, giving priority to those with a strong connection to the area, such as having been born there, having family in the area or working nearby.

Should you rent or buy in the Netherlands?
As buying a property can take several months (generally at least three) and costs are typically at least 6 percent of the purchase price, it is recommended that you rent if you are new to an area or plan to stay less than three years. More information is detailed in Expatica's guide to buying a home in the Netherlands.

Finding a property to rent

Social housing is by application to a central body, however few expats qualify for this. Therefore, flat hunting is similar to most other countries. One key difference is that all properties are assessed on a point system (details in Dutch only) called the woningwaarderingsstelsel. This sets a base rental rate which acts as a fixed price for social or rent-controlled properties under EUR 681.02 (2013) per month, and a guideline for properties over that value.

Online property portals are popular, and you can also find rental properties through letting agencies (verhuurbureaus) and advertisements in local newspapers, as well as classified ads and internal company websites. Commissioning an estate agent to find you a place will typically incur a fee equivalent to one month's rent.

As most Dutch industries are relatively closely knit, even in the big cities, it's best to only sign up with one agent or risk displeasing them all. Estate agents are obliged to work in the best interest of the tenant and should provide you with full information about the property.

The Netherlands is densely populated and competition for attractive properties in popular areas is fierce. As a result, it's a good idea to spread your net wide – consider as wide a range of properties as possible – and be ready to sign when you spot the one you want.

Online property portals


Specialised property portals

Renting in the NetherlandsProperty descriptions
Most properties are completely unfurnished (kaal), which means they don't have carpets, light fittings or any other furnishings. They will usually have basic fittings, such as a bathroom and a kitchen with fixed appliances like a sink and stove, but may not have other appliances like a fridge or washing machine. Making a kaal place habitable can add a significant amount to the cost of moving.

A step up from kaal rentals are those described as gestoffeerd, i.e. with soft furnishings. These will usually include carpets and curtains, and may include kitchen appliances.

Furnished lets are described as gemeubileerd and should be ready to move straight in, although some landlords have eccentric ideas of what furniture is required to make a place habitable. Short-term house shares and rooms-for-rent are usually gemeubileerd, while student rooms are generally not.

Short-term tenancies
In Amsterdam, it is illegal to rent a property for a period of less than six months without a special licence. However, the law is often flouted and this can cause significant problems for tenants.

Throughout the country, short-term lets, holiday homes and aparthotels are common. Websites catering to tourists are often in English and can be a good resource to find a place to live for a few weeks, although prices are typically fairly high. You can sublet a property, but this is riskier – due to restrictions on residency by co-operatives and certain municipalities, you may not have the right to live in the property and have little legal recourse in case of eviction or malpractice.

Social housing
Around 75 percent of Dutch rental properties are social housing. This can be significantly cheaper than renting on the private market, but is rigorously controlled, allocated based on need, and there are long waiting periods – waits of three to seven years aren't uncommon. It is typically reserved for families with a total income under EUR 34,000. Social housing falls into two main categories:

  • Municipal housing;
  • Housing co-opperatives.


In both cases, you should apply as soon as you enter the country and also search for private market housing to fill the gap. A successful application gives you a right-of-refusal on available properties – rather than search for a property yourself, you wait to be informed about one which has been deemed to meet your needs.

There is a complex system of points for assessing properties and matching them with tenants. Students may be able to bypass some of the waiting lists, but it's best to discuss your needs with your educational institution for more practical advice.

Anti-squatting (antikraak)
A form of very cheap, basic accommodation, anti-squatting networks divide empty buildings into rooms and rent them out at a low rate. Tenants have fewer rights, tenancies are typically short and end suddenly when the building is sold. Facilities are usually basic, but rooms can be large and quiet and rents can be as low as EUR 150 per month.

Housing benefit

A rental benefit called a huurtoeslag is available for those renting private properties on low incomes. Conditions for accessing this benefit are somewhat complex – it's best to consult your local government advice centre directly or check online (information in Dutch only).
Renting an apartment the Netherlands: Dutch renting rulesApplying to rent a property

As in other countries, tenant applications in the Netherlands will request information about you even your closest friend would blush to ask. In some cases, landlords will request that your employer acts as a guarantor or provide a reference, so it's worth having a chat with HR before you start looking.

Tenancy agreements in the Netherlands
Oral agreements are valid in the Netherlands, but you are strongly advised to get a written tenancy agreement. This must be signed by both tenant and landlord.

In addition to the tenancy agreement, you will often get a general terms and conditions notice from the estate agent or property manager working on behalf of the landlord. In apartments, you may also get a further set of regulations from the resident's association. You should make sure you understand the implications of all three, particularly with regards to pets, notice periods and any costs or fees.

Most contracts have an initial term of 12 months, with a one month termination notice period required by either side. However, in practice it is very difficult for a landlord to get rid of a tenant without a good reason and a court mandate. If your stay in the Netherlands is at risk of ending suddenly and unpredictably during that period (for example, a recall to your home country) you may wish to add a break clause to that effect.

Your lease agreement should clearly indicate the basic rent (kale huur or netto huur) and any additional charges, such as utility bills or other service costs (servicekosten). It is common for extra charges to include utility payments, in which case your landlord must issue you with an account (eindafrekening) showing payments and real costs at least once a year.

It is not permitted to charge a fee without providing something in return, and over-payments for utility bills must be refunded. However, unscrupulous subletters or landlords may try to charge new tenants an additional fee, beyond estate agent's fees, such as a deposit. This is an often called a 'key fee' (sleutelgeld), as the key (and thus access to the apartment) is usually held as ransom. If it is a fee for allowing you access to the property, and they don't provide what they said they would in return (such as a carpet or estate agent services), then it is an illegal charge.

Cost of renting in the Netherlands

  • Monthly rent: Typically EUR 600–1,200 for a two-bedroom apartment. Rent should only increase in line with inflation each year.
  • Deposit: Typically equal to two months' rent
  • Agent's fees: Typically equal to one month's rent for a search agent hired by you, otherwise paid by the landlord.
  • Furnishings: costs may need to include carpet, light fittings and often kitchen appliances.
  • Utilities: Often bundled with the rent, in which case make sure you understand what you're paying for and that the utilities are metered.


Moving in and out

Even if the property you are renting is completely unfurnished (kaal), it is often possible to buy the flooring and curtains from the previous tenant. However, no matter what agreement you made with the previous tenant or estate agent, you will have to reach a similar agreement with the following tenant because you usually have to return the property to a 'neutral' state when you leave – otherwise you will be charged the costs to do this. This typically means removing all additional flooring, light fittings and so on, and painting the walls white.

Tenant's rights

Dutch law is mostly in favour of the tenant, not the landlord, and there are fixed processes for disputing a rent, rental increase or other issues. You may wish to:

  • Contact tenant's rights organisation, Wijksteunpunten Wonen, or visit their website;
  • Get in touch with the national rental commission (huurcommissie) in person or online (in Dutch only).

 

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9 Comments To This Article

  • Jim posted:

    on 18th May 2016, 14:11:10 - Reply

    In the Netherlands there are minimal 50 energy suppliers so to make things better for yourself you can use overstappen van energie to get your energy supply settled for your home.

  • Klaudia posted:

    on 13th April 2016, 19:46:02 - Reply

    Hello, I am planning to move to the Netherlands for my studies starting September '17 and I was hoping for advice on how to find a cheap flat with my partner. I've been searching so long but most flats within our small student budget either of between 800-1000 euros p/m (together) appear to be 'suited for one person only' or/AND(!) 'with shared bathroom'. Now this to me is completely strange as in the UK it would be no problem for us to rent a 400 pounds p/m flat with our own private bathroom, nevermind one for 600-700 pounds! Would a flat like that here really be that ridiculously expensive that we would have to pay 1000-1500 euro a month? This is way too much for us to be able to survive. Am I just looking in all the wrong places? The area we are planning to live in is The Hague...

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on our Ask the Expert free service.]

  • Dexter posted:

    on 18th December 2015, 14:00:06 - Reply

    Nice post and great arguments about the social and free sector in Amsterdam. Still you can find a property lower than 800 euro nearby Amsterdam. You just need to be fast and subscribe to the brokers listing. At HBhousing you can find rental apartments in Amsterdam starting from 650 euros.

  • Maude posted:

    on 2nd November 2015, 07:38:11 - Reply

    I am having a lot of trouble finding information on what the typical policy for pets is. Is there usually a maximum number or weight limit? I am a dog trainer and have three dogs. My husbands work takes us to Utrecht and I don't want to part with them if possible. Thank you for any help!

    [Moderator's note: You can also post questions on Ask the Expert service]

  • Renske posted:

    on 29th September 2015, 09:50:50 - Reply

    House for rent, from 1st of Nov till 1st of March (5 months). Located in the middle of Amsterdam with all the musea, the Leidseplein and the canals at a walking distance. It's a furnished appartement. The living has a big couch to relax, dinning area and an open kitchen. It has a nice balcony to enjoy the Dutch sun! There is a spacious bedroom with 180x 200cm bed with closet space. A bathroom with a bath and two sinks, dryer and washing machine. Total of 80m2. The weteringstraat is one of most relaxing streets in the middel of the city center. Price; 1800,- euro p.m. excl.. EMail me if interested r.l.debruine@hotmail.com

    [Moderator's note: Please post these updates our forums or classifieds]

  • matchpad posted:

    on 9th June 2015, 12:59:35 - Reply

    wow....lovely place and great content you shared with us. This content is very helpful for us. I appreciate you for this. Keep posting.

  • Simon posted:

    on 7th October 2014, 13:24:50 - Reply

    As a landlord, renting rooms, how can I allow for the varying quality of houses and locations, when the Huurcommissie point system does not consider these criteria?
    A 10 sq meter heated concrete bunker in the middle of nowhere has the same points as a 10 sq meter room in central Amsterdam.
  • nilesh posted:

    on 17th April 2014, 05:17:08 - Reply

    [Moderator's note: You may wish to join our community for local opinions: http://community.expatica.com or try our Ask the Expert service: http://expatica.com/ask_the_expert] Good day I am about to move to Amsterdam. Kindly advise how much rent must I expect to pay for a one bedroom apartment of about 600 sq get sizE.
  • chris posted:

    on 11th August 2013, 00:29:39 - Reply

    This article specifically discusses all the benefits of renting a home in the social sector (typically older homes, lower Energy savings label), but it also gives the impression that Housing Benefits will be available to Expats, when they are not, in at least 99% of the cases. Social housing are those with rents below roughly 650EUR, and to qualify you need to be registered for at least 10years (or longer) on a special website and demonstrate having lived long enough in the city and having a very low -total- household salary. Only then, will anyone be able to call on Housing Benefits, or get help with tenancy issues through 'tenants' rights organizations' or 'national rental commission'.

    Almost all my friends, aged from 20-35y have had no other option but rent in the so called 'free sector'. This is because all are either living with a spouse or sharing their house with someone, which brings their household income easily to well over 33.000eur (so that disqualified them from Benefits and any social house).

    I think we should highlight that in practice all houses occupied by expats are Free Sector houses. And the websites Funda, Perfect Housing, Pararius and Direct Wonen all, in fact offer houses starting from 650euro and up, for the simple reason that social housing are only offered on the governmental website channel after a thoroughly monitored registration, as it is reserved for low income household income totals alone anyway, and not for the typical expat who just arrived a few years ago.

    As for the brokerage fee, of course one can deny paying for it (I tried!!) but then most of us will end up facing a landlord who too won't want to pick up the broker's bill, with a chance of picking some other tenant over you who didn't mind paying the broker his fee. I can't even blame the owner, because in the end, it is always the broker driving around a prospect tenant to view homes. So paying him in my case, seemed quite fair. All of my friends including the Dutch ones did that too.