Types of Rental Properties
There are many different types of places to rent in the Netherlands. Your options are:
- Unfurnished (Ongemeubileerd). Aside from the barest of necessities, the property will essentially be empty. There will usually be no carpeting or curtains and often very few/no appliances or utilities.
- Semi-furnished (Gestoffeerd). A semi-furnished residence contains some furnishings, carpeting, and possibly a few appliances. Ask for a complete list of what is included before you move in. Utility inclusion or exclusion depends on the landlord.
- Furnished (Gemeubileerd). Everything should have been taken care of, and the apartment should be ready to move into. It will contain: furniture, appliances, curtains, light fixtures, carpets, cutlery and dishes, television and stereo equipment. Kitchen appliances should be there too. These could include: microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, and sometimes even bed linens, blankets or down feather beds. Make sure to ask for a complete inventory list before agreeing to anything. If something is missing, negotiate it before you sign the lease. Utilities are (usually) included.
The Rental Contract
Many rental contracts have been specially designed to meet the needs of expatriates, and include an English translation.
A rental contract usually covers the following:
- Rent: payable one month in advance.
- A deposit: usually for one month’s rent, but sometimes 2 or 3.
- An annual adjustment of the rent, based on increases in the cost of living, as determined by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).
- User’s costs: utilities, municipal levies and garden maintenance.
- A Diplomatic clause
- A Brokerage fee
- A clause on minor repairs
- A clause stating that the lessee is responsible for the yearly cleaning of the central heating system, water boilers, chimneys, gutters and draining pipes
- The obligation to return the property in the same condition, normal wear and tear excepted, at the end of the rental period. If this condition is not met, the tenant will forfeit (a part of) the deposit.
You could be sent to another location or country before the rental contract comes to its end. Equally, if the owner rented it out to you because he himself was abroad, he could be sent home by his employer. In these situations, one of you will have to terminate the rental contract, before the agreed term is over. In order to be able to do this, make sure you include a diplomatic clause in your rental contract. This will give each of you the option to terminate the contract, after a notification term mutually agreed upon in advance.
With regards to repairs, you are advised to do a careful walk-through of the house or apartment you are planning on renting. Take note of damages and areas in need of improvement as you go. Before you sign along that dotted line, determine who will be responsible for arranging and paying for these.
When the contracts have been signed, and the rent and deposit have been paid into the account of the agent, the lessee will be handed the keys to the property. Ideally, the lessee will be checked in by the owner or his representative, assisted by his own agent. A checklist will be filled out regarding the condition of the house, the furniture, fixtures and fittings and the condition of the exterior/garden. The inventory will be checked too. The house should be thoroughly cleaned, including the inside of kitchen and bathroom cabinets. The inspection report, as well as the inventory list, must be signed by lessee and lessor.
Terminating the Rental Contract
If you do not stipulate in writing that you will vacate the premises after the initial one-year rental period, then the contract undergoes a silent continuance, or stilzwijgende verlenging. This means you will be liable for a new year of rental fees. You will, at the very least, lose your deposit (usually two months’ rent) if you move out anyway.
Alternatively, if you wish to continue your lease on a month-to-month basis, after the initial one-year period, this can be negotiated if your landlord is willing. You may also choose to continue your rental contract for a longer period of time. Either agreement should be confirmed in writing.
Always inform your landlord well in advance, about the date you would like your contract to expire and when you will be leaving. This should be done via registered letter. Depending on your rental contract, a notice period should be given before the expiration of the tenancy. It should be:
- at least one calendar month. This protects the lessor if the lessee terminates the contract.
- at least three months, + one month for every year the property has been rented, but no longer than six months. This protects the lessee, incase the lessor terminates the contract.
A check-out is completed with all parties concerned, preferably on the last day of the lease period. The inventory and condition of the lease property are checked against the checklist, made when the lease began. If the state of the property is found to be satisfactory and all bills in connection with the property have been paid, the deposit will be paid back within three months after the check-out date. If necessary, the costs of restoring the rental property will be deducted from the deposit, in accordance with the bills provided by the lessor.
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