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A Guide To Renting An Apartment In The Netherlands

Looking to move to the Netherlands? When it comes to finding the right place for you, that little flat in the hip part of town or that beautiful 18th century-built apartment overlooking the canals may be just around the corner.It can take a while to find something suitable within your price range, so be ready to pounce when you see something you like. With a little research and a dose of persistence, you’ll be cycling home before you know it.

Ready to start finding your future home? Here are some considerations to help you through the process.

Social housing vs private housing

Rental properties in the Netherlands are either provided by the social housing sector (government-subsidised) or the private sector (non-subsidised). Of the three million rented homes in the Netherlands, around 75% are owned by housing associations and subject to social housing arrangements. As an expat, this is almost always not an option for you.

The private housing sector is a free market, with no maximum price on rent or rent increases.

Although social housing is generally not available to expats, it is something worth having a basic understanding of because chances are you’ll find navigating the rental system in Netherlands quite different to home due to its influence.

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The current rent limit for social housing was set in 2016, and sits at €710.68 per month. The housing associations who are responsible for managing social housing must rent 80% of their vacant social housing to people with an income of up to €35,739 and 10% to people with an income between that and €39,874. This means that they are able to rent the remaining 10% of their social housing to households with higher incomes. Social housing is subject to a points system that determines the value of the property, and therefore rent.

The rules and regulations around providing social housing to lower income households can certainly affect the housing market available to expats.

Finding a rental property online

There are several websites in English where you can look for rental properties across the country. Some of the good ones are:

Direct Wonen
Housing XL
Only Expats
Perfect Housing

Using a real estate agent

Real estate agents – or makelaars – are available to help you in your search for a home, as well as to give you general information and advice about the housing market. The cost of using a real estate agent to help you find your rental property is generally equal to the cost of one month’s rent. In the Amsterdam area, try services offered to expats by the MVA to get started.

Property descriptions

Unfurnished (ongemeubileerd)
The property will not have floor coverings (i.e. carpets), curtains, light fittings, white goods, appliances or furniture. You will have to buy everything. You may be able to buy some of these things from the tenant who is moving out.

Semi-furnished (gestoffeerd)
The property will probably have some type of floor covering such as a carpet. It will also have curtains and basic appliances. You will still need to provide a lot yourself.

Furnished (gemeubileerd)
The property should include everything that makes it ready to live in, including furniture, white goods and appliances.

Rental pricing

Rental prices will depend on factors such as the property’s location and size, with Amsterdam being the most expensive place to rent an apartment. If an apartment is rent-controlled, which is determined by a points system based on size, luxury and location, there is a maximum legal rent. This often does not apply to the private sector more commonly accessed by expats.

Analysis by rental apartment specialists Perfect Housing shows the indicative rental prices for furnished apartments across three main cities.

One bedroom 1,440 | Two bedrooms 1,810 | Family house 2,730

The Hague
One bedroom 1,060 | Two bedrooms 1,350 | Family house 2,040

One bedroom: 1,000 | Two bedrooms 1,300 | Family house ,760

Additional costs

When you move into a new rental properly you will probably be asked by your landlord for a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent, as well as your first month of rent in advance. If you have used the services of a real estate agent, that’ll be another lump sum so you may be up for a payment of around three months’ worth of rent in one hit and should budget accordingly.

When it comes to utilities and bills, you will need to clarify whether your arrangement is inclusive or exclusive of these costs – as it can be either. If utilities are bundled in with rent, make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for. If your rent does not include services, you should look to budget for things such as gas, water, electricity, internet and phone line.

With home maintenance, usually the tenant pays for minor repairs and the landlord pays for major repairs and maintenance.

Applying to rent a property

If you are working in the Netherlands, you may need to provide a copy of your employment contract. If you are a student, you may need to show a statement from your Dutch bank account or other bank accounts. You will always need to provide your BSN (citizen service number).

Know your rights

Rental regulations in the Netherlands cover areas such as security of tenure, rent, rent increases, maintenance and service charges. Every rental arrangement should have a formal tenancy agreement in place. This can be either oral or written, although written is recommended for better protection of both parties.

Your tenancy agreement will set out the terms and conditions agreed by the tenant and landlord, including how high the rent is and whether the tenancy is for a fixed or indefinite period. It must have:

• the date on which rent will be increased each year
• maintenance agreements
• house rules
• the tenant’s and landlord’s signatures

Dutch regulations are often in favour of the renter, but of course things do go wrong and housing scams can occur. For those in Amsterdam, tenants’ rights organization WijksteunpuntWonen provides free assistance with any questions about renting. They also have a number of useful downloadable resources on their website.

Are you currently renting an apartment in The Netherlands? Share your experiences in the comments, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!

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