Home Housing Renting Renting a property in the Netherlands
Last update on February 18, 2020
Gary Buswell Written by Gary Buswell

Looking to rent a Dutch apartment or house? Read all about the rental market in our guide to renting in the Netherlands.

If you are moving to the Netherlands, you may want to rent rather than buy property. However, rules for renting accommodation in the Netherlands can be complicated and many Dutch rental properties are social housing with restricted allocation.

This guide to renting in the Netherlands will help you better understand the Dutch housing market, with sections including:

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Introduction to renting in the Netherlands

Renting in the Netherlands is common among both locals and expats. Around 40% of Dutch people rent their homes. The country has a high level of social housing, with housing associations owning around 75% of rental properties.

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.

couple moving into new home

Similar to many European countries, the Netherlands experienced a downturn in the housing market between 2008-12. Things are now picking up, although demand is growing faster than supply. Current forecasts show a projected shortage of 300,000 homes in the Netherlands in the coming years.

The Dutch Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations is the government body responsible for housing.

Amsterdam

The capital and most populous city in the Netherlands, often referred to as the “Venice of the North”. Amsterdam is a global city and the center of the Dutch economy. It is a good place for jobs and has been rated the 10th best European city to start a business.

Amsterdam has a high proportion of immigrants, with over 50% of residents born abroad. However, although it’s a vibrant city and considered a good place to live, this is reflected in rental prices which are more expensive than elsewhere in the Netherlands. For more information on moving to the city, read our guide on Where to live in Amsterdam.

Rotterdam

Located in South Holland, Rotterdam is the second largest Dutch city and Europe’s largest port. It has a similar multi-national make up to Amsterdam and is home to many large businesses including Unilever, Pfizer and Allianz. The city has a sizable rental market that, while not quite as expensive as Amsterdam, is still more costly than most other Dutch cities. Find out more with our guide on Where to live in Rotterdam.

The Hague

The western city of The Hague is known for hosting the government of the Netherlands as well as international organizations such as the International Court of Justice and Europol. Consequently, many international professionals live in the city and it has many high-end apartments suitable for expats. It is the 2nd most expensive city to live after Amsterdam, with one-bedroom apartments reaching around 1,000 a month. For more information, read our guide on Where to live in The Hague.

Groningen

The largest city in the north of the Netherlands, Groningen is also one of the oldest cities in the country in terms of its architecture and culture. It has a sizable student population, with over 50,000 of its 230,000 residents living there for study purposes. Consequently, it has a vibrant nightlife and many apartments available to rent. See our guide to Moving to the North of the Netherlands.

Buying vs renting in the Netherlands

There are many factors to take into account when deciding whether to opt for buying or renting in in the Netherlands. Renting gives you more flexibility and you don’t have so much responsibility when it comes to maintenance. You enjoy a lot of protections when renting in the Netherlands and may get a rent allowance if you are on a low income.

However, you won’t have a place that you can truly call your own and will be restricted when it comes to altering fixtures and fittings.

Buying property in the Netherlands

Buying a property usually works out cheaper in terms of monthly outlay. You also have more freedom to renovate and can make money if house prices rise.

However, it can be risky as well as being time consuming. As buying a property can take several months (generally at least three) and costs are typically at least 6% 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.

Types of property to rent in the Netherlands

You can generally find five types of accommodation on the Dutch rental market. These are:

  • detached houses (vrijstaand);
  • semi-detached houses (twee onder een kap);
  • terraced houses/townhouses (rijtjeshuis);
  • apartments (appartement) – which can be one, two, three bedroom or sometimes even bigger;
  • houseboat (woonboot) – not so common, but sometimes you’ll find these available for rent

Most properties in the Netherlands are rented unfurnished, sometimes without basics such as carpets, fridges and washing machines. However, you can find furnished rentals, especially when it comes to short-term accommodation. You can also find part-furnished rentals which include things such as carpets, curtains and basic appliances.

Another type of basic accommodation is available through some anti-squatting networks, who rent out places for cheap just to keep them occupied. Buildings are usually divided into rooms and rented out for minimal costs (sometimes as low as 150 a month) but tenants have fewer rights and will sometimes have to move out at very short notice.

Finding a place to rent in the Netherlands

Online portals

Online property portals are very popular for renting in the Netherlands. You can find a range of different accommodation types and filter your search according to your preferences (area, price range, furnished or unfurnished, etc.).

Some of the most popular sites for looking for rentals in the Netherlands are:

Letting agents

You can also find many estate agents (verhuurbureaus) in the Netherlands. Commissioning an 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.

Most property agents in the Netherlands belong to the Nederlandse Cooperative Vereniging van Makelaars (NVM) representative body. If you want to avoid being scammed when using an agency, it’s advisable to check that they’re a member of this organization.

Local newspapers

Some of the local and regional newspapers feature listings for accommodation to rent, so it can also be worth keeping an eye on these to keep your options open. Other avenues include classified ads and internal company websites.

Finding student accommodation in the Netherlands

Most Dutch students in the Netherlands either live at home or rent privately rather than live on campus. However, if you’re an international student looking for accommodation, first try checking with your university to see if they have on-site campus accommodation. Many universities, particularly in the bigger cities, will also have a partnership with a student accommodation provider that can help you find a room.

Many of the property websites include information on student accommodation. Two sites worth checking out are SSH, which specializes in student accommodation and has access to around 19,000 properties, and DUWO which has listings for around 33,000 student rooms across the Netherlands.

Finding flat shares in the Netherlands

Flatsharing is a great way of saving money when you first move to a new city. Many of the property portals include search functions where you can look for a room within a shared flat. Sites such as Kamernet allow you to search for spare rooms within apartments all across the Netherlands. You can also list a spare room if you are interested in subletting.

However, it’s important to remember that you often won’t have to sign a formal rental agreement when renting a room. Your agreement is usually with your flatmates. Because of this, it is a good idea to draft up a simple one-page agreement or ask for something to be put in writing to protect yourself, especially if they ask you to pay a rental deposit upfront.

How to rent a property in the Netherlands

Renting a property through an agency

If you go through an agency when renting in the Netherlands, expect to pay an administration fee on top of the standard upfront costs. The agency will deal with all aspects of the transaction, from accompanying you on the initial property viewings through to signing the contract and issuing you the keys.

As in many other countries, you will usually have to provide a fair bit of information to Dutch estate agencies when renting accommodation in the Netherlands. You may also be required to undergo a credit check to make sure you haven’t got any bad debts against your name.

Documents that you will typically have to provide will include:

Renting directly through a private landlord

Of course, you don’t have to use an agency. You can rent directly through a landlord. The process is largely similar in terms of regulations that have to be followed in relation to, for example, rental agreements and deposits.

Renting in the Netherlands through a private landlord can sometimes save money, for example due to agency admin costs being waived, but make sure that they issue you with a proper contract so that your tenant rights are protected.

Cost of renting in the Netherlands

The government has put price controls on social rented homes in the Netherlands according to a points system called the woningwaarderingsstelsel. This is a valuation system which sets a maximum rental price for social housing. View the current price limits set in July 2019 here.

However, these controls do not apply to houses rented in the private sector. Private rental costs in the Netherlands are currently rising at the rate of around 2.5% a year. This has been higher in Amsterdam (3.4%) and Rotterdam (3.2%).

Monthly rent

According to Numbeo, average prices for renting in the Netherlands are currently between 810-1020 a month for a one bedroom apartment and between 1250-1660 a month for a three bedroom apartment. For Amsterdam, this rises to between 1200-1590 for a one bedroom apartment and between 1865-2655 for a three bedroom place.

You typically have to pay rent upfront on a monthly basis. The most convenient way of doing this is by setting up a direct debit or standing order through your bank.

Rental deposit

Tenants who are renting in the Netherlands typically pay a rental security deposit, along with the first month’s rent. This is usually equal to between 1-3 months’ rent.

The landlord will return the deposit when you move out, minus any money you owe for rent arrears or damages. Your landlord has to refund the deposit to you by law at the end of the tenancy and you can take them to court if they refuse. To protect yourself, you should get them to sign a written record detailing the condition of the property at the time you move in.

Agency/administration fees

If you hire an agency to help you find a place in the Netherlands, you will usually have to pay their fees. These usually equate to one month’s rent and will be payable along with your initial rent payment and deposit.

If the landlord hires the agency, they will normally be responsible for paying any fees.

Other costs

When renting in the Netherlands, you will have to budget for a number of other accommodation costs. These can include:

  • utility and telecommunications bills such as electricity and internet;
  • municipal taxes – landlords sometimes include these with rent but you may have to pay them separately;
  • insurance – if you rent, you probably won’t have to pay building insurance but you may want to insure your belongings;
  • furnishings – as most accommodation in the Netherlands is rented unfurnished, you may well have to budget for furniture such as sofas, beds, tables and kitchen equipment.

Help with costs

If you are renting in the Netherlands in the private sector and are on a low income, you may be entitled to a rental benefit called a huurtoeslag. Conditions for accessing this benefit are somewhat complex – it’s best to consult your local government advice center directly or check online (information in Dutch only).

Social housing in the Netherlands

Around 75% of Dutch rental properties are social housing. These belong to housing associations and they can be significantly cheaper than property on the private market.

However, the government strictly controls social housing in the Netherlands and allocates it based on need. This means that few expats qualify for it. There are long waiting lists and housing associations must let 80% of homes to residents with a combined income of no more than €36,798.

A further 10% must be let to residents with a combined income of no more than €41,056, meaning that only 10% can be offered to people with higher incomes.

social housing in the netherlands

The government determines rent for social housing through a points-based system based on property value and size. The current maximum limit charged for social housing is €720.42 a month (2019).

To apply for social housing, you should register with the appropriate housing association. You can do this by contacting your local authority who will be able to tell you the relevant housing association(s) for your region.

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. However, it’s best to discuss your needs with your educational institution for more practical advice.

Tenancy contracts in the Netherlands

When renting in the Netherlands, you can have either a written or an oral agreement with your landlord. However, you are strongly advised to get an agreement in writing that is signed by both parties.

There are generally two types of tenancy contracts in the Netherlands:

  • fixed-term contracts;
  • indefinite tenancy agreements

Fixed-term contracts are the more commonly used. Most contracts have an initial term of 1-2 years with a one month notice period on either side, but contracts can be longer or shorter (although in Amsterdam it is illegal to rent a property for a period of less than 6 months without a special license).

Notice periods can be longer than one month but should not exceed 3 months. However, in practice it is very difficult for a landlord to get rid of a tenant without good reason and a court mandate. If your stay in the Netherlands is at risk of ending suddenly during your rental period, you may wish to add a break clause to the contract if your landlord permits this.

Indefinite tenancy agreements are “rolling contracts” which don’t need to be renewed but may have an initial set period, for example 6 months. However, both parties still need to give the notice period if they want to terminate the contract at any point. In some accommodation, you may start off on a fixed-term contract and then move to an indefinite contract after the first few years if you are there long-term.

Contents of tenancy contracts in the Netherlands

Your tenancy contract should include as a minimum:

  • your basic monthly rent (kale huur or netto huur) along with details on when it should be paid;
  • any additional charges payable to the landlord, such as utility bills or other service costs;
  • details on when the landlord can review rental costs;
  • type of contract (whether fixed-term or indefinite);
  • information on notice periods;
  • maintenance agreements;
  • house rules;
  • tenant and landlord signatures

If your landlord is charging you for utility payments (e.g. water, gas, electric) they must issue you with an account (eindafrekening) showing payments and real costs at least once a year.

It is illegal for landlords to charge a fee without providing something in return and detailing what the fee is for in the contract. Some unscrupulous landlords and sub-letters try to charge additional fees to new tenants, so check your contract thoroughly to make sure there are no hidden unspecified costs.

In addition to the tenancy agreement, the landlord or lettings agency will often give you a general terms and conditions notice. 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 rules such as pets or smoking on the premises.

You can view sample fixed-term and indefinite period tenancy contracts here.

Tenants rights and obligations

Dutch rental law is mostly in favor of the tenant, not the landlord, and there are fixed processes for disputing a rent, rental increase or other issues. Landlords cannot evict tenants without good reason and need to go through legal proceedings to get an eviction notice, which can be lengthy.

Full details of rights and obligations should be set out clearly in the tenancy contract. In general, tenant duties will be to:

  • pay the rent and any other agreed monthly fees on time;
  • follow the agreed house rules as set out in the contract;
  • pay for minor inexpensive repairs, e.g. replacing light-bulbs or shower heads;
  • pay for the repair of any damage caused by themselves;
  • allow the landlord access the premises to carry out necessary repairs or inspections, providing sufficient notice has been given;
  • give valid reasons and notice when terminating the contract

Issues such as sub-letting and alteration of internal fixtures and fittings vary from contract to contract. You will not be allowed to sublet or make permanent alterations without prior permission unless your tenancy agreement allows it.

Landlord rights and obligations

The landlord has a right to visit the premises to carry out inspections or repairs as long as sufficient notice has been given (usually at least 24 hours).

Landlords also have the right to evict a tenant if they can provide good reasons for doing so, such as non-payment of rent, but they need to apply for an eviction notice through the Dutch courts. This process can take around 3-6 months and the landlord should inform the tenant of intentions to evict.

Landlord duties generally include:

  • to respect the privacy of the tenant, e.g. not visiting without giving sufficient notice;
  • cover any necessary major repairs and maintenance within a reasonable period;
  • solve any problems affecting the tenant, such as those concerning plumbing, electricity or internet;
  • give valid reasons and notice when terminating the contract

Where to go in the event of a dispute

If there is a dispute between landlord and tenant, you can sometimes resolve this through a complaints committee. Most social housing and some private housing organizations have these.

If you cannot resolve the dispute in this way, or if there is no complaints committee linked to the property, you will need to take it to a Rent Tribunal (huurcommissie). These can deal with issues relating to rent, maintenance and service charges.

The huurcommissie is a national independent agency which can mediate and adjudicate on disputes. Either landlords or tenants can start proceedings. The cost to do so is €25 for an individual (landlord or tenant) or €450 for a company or organization.

You can find out more information on the Huurcommissie website (in Dutch). Tenants can also contact the !WOON tenant support agency which provides free information and advice to tenants renting in the Netherlands.

Utilities and telecommunications in the Netherlands

Depending on the property you move into and your tenancy agreement, you may be responsible for setting up accounts for things such as electricity, gas, internet, phone and TV when renting in the Netherlands.

With many places, the landlord will take care of these and add the necessary monthly costs to your rent, although they should give you full details of what any additional charges are for.

However, if you rent somewhere where you are responsible for organizing the supply, you will need to contact the relevant providers to arrange an account. See our guides to setting up utilities in the Netherlands and setting up telecommunications in the Netherlands for information on what to do.

Moving in and moving out of the Netherlands

Once you have signed the tenancy agreement and paid the initial upfront costs, the landlord or lettings agency should give you the keys to your new rented accommodation. You will be responsible for returning the property in a ‘neutral’ state when you leave – i.e. in the same state as when you moved in. Because of this, it’s a good idea to get an inventory done when you move in.

This should detail the exact contents of the property along with information on the condition of all fittings and any existing damage (with photos included if possible). Sometimes, the landlord will include this as standard along with the tenancy contract, especially if you are renting through an agency or organization.

moving in the Netherlands

When you move out, you will need to provide the required notice to your landlord in writing and then remove any additional fittings installed during your tenancy before moving out. This includes things such as additional carpeting and light fittings. Once the landlord has inspected the premises, they should return your deposit back minus any money owed for rent arrears or damages.

If you have a problem getting your deposit refunded, you can raise a dispute with the Huurcommissie.

For those renting in the Netherlands needing to transport belongings to their new home, see our guide on Dutch relocation options.

Tips for renters in the Netherlands

  • When looking for a place to rent, bear in mind that competition for attractive properties can be fierce, especially in the big cities. Therefore it is an idea to spread your net wide – consider as wide a range of places as possible – and be ready to sign when you spot somewhere you want.
  • Ask for the landlord to provide an inventory and keep this safe until it comes to moving out, as you may need to refer to it to prevent a dispute.
  • Check your tenancy contract for information on rules such as pets, smoking and having guests to stay. Make sure you don’t breach any of these rules otherwise you may risk losing some of your deposit.
  • Take meter readings if possible for utilities (gas, water and electric) when you move in and move out, so that you don’t end up paying for periods when you’re not there.
  • Check your tenancy agreement for additional fees. If the landlord wants to charge for anything besides basic rent, they need to clearly detail this in the contract. Don’t hand over any additional money if it’s not within the agreement.
  • If you are concerned about rental costs, check if you are eligible for the housing allowance (huurtoeslag).

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