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The Netherlands (Holland) - Renting Property

When it comes to renting a property in the Netherlands, the rules can be somewhat complex. First time renters need to ensure they familiarise themselves with the unique rules and regulations of the Dutch rental market to ensure that they don’t find themselves renting an illegal property.

Rental properties in the Netherlands are split into social housing or rent controlled schemes managed and regulated by the government, and the private rental market.

Dutch residents and expats usually search for properties for rent using online property portals, letting agents (verhuurbureus), newspaper advertisements, and classified ads. If you decide to search through an estate agent, you will usually be expected to pay a fee equating to one month’s rent.

Rental properties are extremely popular in the Netherlands, with over 40% of the Dutch population renting their homes. There are a number of regulations in place that favour the rental market and make it more accessible to tenants. For example, for low-value properties, rents are assessed and controlled. In certain areas, there are also some restrictions over who is allowed to live where. These restrictions typically give priority to individuals with a strong local connection – for example, they might have been born there, have family in the area, or work close by.

When it comes to rent controlled housing, rents are set on a points system, the woningwaarderingsstelsel, which sets a maximum rental rate for each property. This is based on factors such as the available amenities, floor space, and the general condition of the building. This base rental rate acts as a fixed price for all social and rent-controlled properties under EUR 681.02 per month, and as a guideline for properties over that value.

A person’s eligibility for rent controlled housing depends on their income and the amount of time for which they intend to remain in the Netherlands. Once you’ve registered with the housing corporation, you will be placed on a waiting list, and it can take up to ten years for you to secure a property. Once you are placed in a property, however, the rent will be significantly less than if you went through the private market.

As there is a shortage of rental properties in the country, prices for good quality properties are high, with the top end of the market seeing prices varying between EUR600 and EUR2500 per month.

Most tenancy agreements will require you to commit to a 12-month term initially, with a one-month termination period for both tenant and landlord. It is very difficult for a landlord to evict a tenant unless there are exceptional circumstances and a court order.

When looking for a suitable property, you should also bear in mind that the majority of properties are provided completely unfurnished (kaal). This type of property does not include any furniture, carpets, or light fittings. They do usually have a bathroom and a kitchen including fixed appliances, but white goods aren’t generally included.

With this in mind, furnishing a kaal property can require a considerable investment, so it may not be the best option for expats looking for a short-term home. However, it is often possible to buy the soft furnishings (flooring and curtains) from the previous tenant, but it’s important to remember that if you do this, you will be responsible for removing them from the property at the end of your tenancy.

Gestoffeerd properties are unfurnished but include soft furnishings such as carpets, curtains, and usually kitchen appliances.

Fully furnished rental properties (gemeubileerd) should contain everything you need to move straight in. You should always ask the landlord to confirm exactly what is and isn’t included before you sign a contract.

Although oral tenancy agreements are valid and legally binding in the Netherlands, you should always ensure that you obtain a written agreement that is signed by both the tenant and the landlord.

Alongside the standard tenancy agreement, you will typically also be presented with a general terms and conditions notice from the estate agent who is working on the landlord’s behalf. If you are renting an apartment, you may also get a third document: a set of regulations from the residents’ association. It’s important that you familiarise yourself with all three documents and understand the implications of breaking any of the terms.

The tenancy agreement itself should outline your rent (kale huur or netto huur) as well as any other charges, such as bills or service costs (servicekosten), that you are required to pay. If the additional charges include your utility bills, the landlord is obliged to provide you with an account (eindafrekening) at least once a year, clearly showing the payments made and the real costs involved. Because it is not permitted to charge any sort of fee without providing something in return, any over-payments for utility bills must be refunded to the tenant.

When you make a tenancy application in the Netherlands, you should be prepared to answer some personal questions and provide information about your income, previous landlords, and employment history. Some landlords even ask for your employer to act as a guarantor, or to at least provide a reference. With this in mind, it’s worth speaking to your employer about their policy before you start looking for a suitable property.

Before moving into the property, you will usually be asked to pay a deposit equal to two months' rent. Usually this deposit can be replaced by a bank guarantee for the equivalent amount. If you do find yourself in a dispute with your landlord during your tenancy, the good news is that Dutch law is mostly in favour of the tenant and there are a number of official procedures you can follow to resolve the issue.

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