Before moving into your Dutch house, you must acquaint yourself with the hazards of renting in the Netherlands! Understandably, many expats are eager to sign a contract, and get settled into their new home as quickly as possible. However, it is crucial to check your rental agreement thoroughly, before you commit. This page will show you how to spot the red flags, and how to deal with them. Being savvy about the hazards of renting in the Netherlands will enable you to preempt them, and avoid a lot of drama!
We will use a real case study to better demonstrate how to navigate Dutch rental hazards.
Meet Bill and Tamara:
- They are a lovely Australian couple, with three kids and a dog
- They fell in love with a house in the Hague, and rented it out for exactly four years
- This fitted perfectly with the length of Bill’s contract
- Bill’s employer also covered the costs of the family’s move
- For over three years, everything seemed idyllic: the neighborhood, the corner shops, the close proximity to the children’s school
- Until, one morning, a letter fell onto the doormat:
The Eviction Notice
Dear Bill and Tamara,
I do hope you are doing well and enjoying your life in The Hague.
Unfortunately, I have to inform you that we are returning to the Netherlands to re-occupy our home. I therefore give you a full three calendar months notice to vacate the premises.
My property manager will contact you for the check-out, to settle the remaining amount of the deposit after a careful inspection for any damage that might have occurred during the tenancy.
Bill and Tamara were stunned and baffled. What was going on?
A Compromising Clause in the Contract
Unfortunately, many expats encounter this hazard:
- Bill and Tamara had not read their contract thoroughly
- They had assumed that only they could terminate it
- The contract actually contained a clause, stating that the owner could move back into his house. He would be able to do this in the event that he was transferred back to the Netherlands, so long as he gave three months notice
The Effect on the Family
This was not good news for Bill and Tamara:
- This clause was applicable from the start of the contract. So, it was far too late for the couple to challenge it
- It looked as if they would have to pack up their whole life, find another house and move. What is more, they would have to accomplish all of this within just three months!
- Bill and Tamara had specific requirements for their new home. It had to be:
- Furnished and affordable
- Close enough to the children’s school
- Close to the shops
- Near a park for dog walking
- In a safe and friendly area
- Plus, the rental contract had to be only 8 months long, so that the family could move back to Australia when Bill’s contract came to an end
- All these factors made the family’s task very challenging, and highly inconvenient
Losing Your Deposit
On top of these issues, Bill and Tamara had failed to take some further necessary precautions:
- They had not had an inspection report made up when they moved
- They had not taken any photos of the house when they moved in
What was the effect of this?
- The owner claimed back the full deposit, because of ostensible damage caused by the dog
- He claimed that there were large patches of ruined grass, dirty marks on the walls, scratches on the parquet floors, chips in the woodwork and a few holes in the living room curtains
- Without a report, and with no photographic documentation, Tamara and Bill could not prove that the house had been in this state when they first moved in
To add insult to injury, the couple faced a third problem, as a result of their eviction:
- Bill’s employer covered the costs of the family’s initial move. Unfortunately, he was not responsible for covering a second
- This is often the case when expats come to the Netherlands on assignment
- Since the owner of the house was not required to help them with this either, Bill and Tamara stood to lose a lot of money
How can You Avoid these Hazards?
- Be sure to have a detailed and signed inspection report made up, before you move in
- Take good quality photos to accompany this report. They should document any damage and wear or tear that the property comes with initially
- Protect yourself by negotiating the terms of your contract. If you detect a hazardous clause, for example, a section stating that the house owner can reclaim his or her home early, question it. If you still really want the property, try to come to a compromise with the owner. You could ask them to soften the blow of vacating your home at short notice, by covering your moving costs
So, the moral of the story is to:
- Read that contract before you move in
- Try to negotiate any terms that do not suit you
- Take a thorough inventory report
What Happened to Bill and Tamara?
Bill and Tamara were very lucky:
- The owner of their house was understanding, and accommodating of some of their needs
- Tamara and Bill came away from the experience having learnt a lot
- They were able to truly enjoy their last few months in the Netherlands
- This is not the case for everyone
- Before renting your first place in NL, do your research!
- If you are considering settling down permanently in the Netherlands, why not look into buying a house in the Netherlands
- Vereniging eigen huis: Dutch housing Association
- Nederlandse vereniging van makelaars, NVM: Dutch Association of Real Estate Brokers
- The Access Guide to Housing in the Netherlands