The rules surrounding rental properties in the Netherlands may well differ from those of your native country. This article will cover the fundamentals of Dutch renting protocol. It will outline which types of rental property are available in the Netherlands, and what you can expect from each one. It is so important to familiarize yourself with the rules of renting! It will help you to enjoy selecting and moving into your new Dutch property, without any misunderstandings.

Rental Prices in NL

Because many properties in the Netherlands are rented out privately, their price and quality varies greatly. Generally speaking, however, Dutch housing is of a good standard. All properties will have hot and cold running water, heating, and electricity. Here are a few facts about rental prices in the Netherlands:

  • The price of a Dutch rental property will be based on its location, size and quality
  • The property’s proximity to schools, shopping, and public transport will help determine the price as well
  • Big cities, such as Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague offer more choice in rental properties
  • Properties in these larger cities are more expensive, compared to those in smaller Dutch towns

Recent Developments in Property Prices

  • The sales market for properties is picking up in NL. Therefore, Dutch realtors expect rental prices to go up over the years to come. This means that there will be fewer properties available for rent
  • Over the past couple of years, many owners rented out their property because they couldn’t sell it. This is beginning to change now
  • Properties that have a rent of under € 700 are considered to be social housing
  • Dutch Housing corporations have waiting lists of several years for such properties
  • Housing corporations will only accept tenants with a maximum annual income of € 34,678
  • Because most expats will earn more than this, they will usually struggle to find a property with a rent of less than € 700 a month

Now let’s cover some essential Dutch rental rules!

Rule 1: Learn the Renting Vocabulary

It is very important to get yourself acquainted with the vocabulary used to discuss renting in the Netherlands, before you begin your house hunt. Here’s why:

  • The terminology surrounding the various different types of Dutch rental property is baffling to many expats!
  • Unfurnished properties tend to be much cheaper than semi or fully furnished properties
  • If you do not know the meanings of the terms, and you make assumptions, you could find yourself in a sticky situation
  • You may think that you have found a great deal on a furnished place and arrive with just a few small suitcases, only to discover that it is completely empty!

Types of Dutch Rental Property

Here is an explanatory list of the categories of rental property available in the Netherlands:

1. Unfurnished: ‘Ongemeubileerd’

In the Netherlands, rental houses and apartments are generally unfurnished or Ongemeubileerd’. An unfurnished property has the following characteristics:

  • This type of property is essentially a ‘shell’ of a house or an apartment
  • It will usually have no curtains, no lamps, no wall or floor coverings, and no kitchen appliances
  • For unfurnished properties, the rent is ‘cold’. This means that heating, water, electricity, internet, TV, phone, and communal taxes are not included in the rent. Hence, you will need to arrange your utilities yourself
  • When the former tenant leaves the property, he or she will strip the place bare and return it to its original state
  • Sometimes it is possible for old and new tenants to come to an agreement. New tenants might agree to buy the furnishings of the former tenant when they move in. This must be done formerly and signed for
  • This type of renting can be very time-consuming and expensive for an expat, especially if they will be staying in the Netherlands for just a couple of years
  • Furnishing an apartment requires a lot of DIY
  • You can employ a handyman to help you, but unfortunately labor in the Netherlands is expensive!
  • On the plus side, you will really get to make the place your own, if you can afford to

2. Semi-Furnished/ Soft-Furnished: ‘Gestoffeerd’

For the reasons listed above, most expats rent a semi-furnished, or ‘soft-furnished’ property. This translates as ‘Gestoffeerd’  in Dutch. Here are the bullet points:

  • A semi furnished property will have wall and floor coverings, curtains, (ceiling) lights, a kitchen with appliances, and sometimes even a washer/dryer
  • The tenant must bring his or her own furniture
  • Usually, the rent will be ‘cold’ for semi-furnished properties as well. (A definition of ‘cold’ rent is given above). As always, however, check this with your landlord

3. Furnished: ‘Gemeubileerd’

If you opt for a furnished rental property, it will probably come fully furnished. This means that:

  • Linen, kitchen equipment, pots and pans, cutlery, plates and glasses, TV, DVD player, towels, bed linens, etc. will all be included
  • Utilities will usually be included in the price as well
  • However, because every property and every landlord is different, be sure ask for a complete list of what is included in the price, before you sign a contract
  • Never assume that the items you saw when you viewed the property will still be there when you move in
  • Usually, an inventory list will be made for a furnished property. If the landlord does not mention this, ask for one yourself

Side Note

  • Wherever you live, communal taxes will be linked to the address of the property in the Netherlands. Communal taxes cover: waste, water and garbage collection etc
  • It is also mandatory to register at your local municipality, no matter which type of property you choose!

Rule 2: Read the Contract

It is so important to read your contract carefully, before you move in to your new Dutch rental home! Our  page on the Hazards of renting in the Netherlands will explain why! It is crucial to watch out for hidden defects in Dutch houses as well.

Luckily, many rental contracts have been specially designed to meet the needs of expatriates, and include an English translation.

The Dutch Rental Contract

Your Dutch rental contract should cover the following topics:

  • How much the rent will be for the property. Usually, it will be payable one month in advance
  • The deposit. This will typically be one- three months rent
  • 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, such as: utilities, municipal levies and garden maintenance
  • A ‘Diplomatic Clause’
  • The Brokerage/ realtor fees. These tend to be equal to one month’s rent, plus 21% VAT
  • A clause on minor repairs
  • A clause stating whether or not the tenant or the landlord is responsible for the yearly cleaning of the central heating system, water boilers, chimneys, gutters and drain pipes
  • The obligation to return the property in the condition in which it was first rented out. That is, with the exception of normal wear and tear. If this condition is not met, the tenant must forfeit (a part of) the deposit

Payment can be made from a foreign bank account using the IBAN and BIC codes.

Rule 3: Make a check-in report

The check-in report is another crucial task to take care of, before you move into your rented accommodation in the Netherlands. Here are the steps you must take:

  1. Before renting, be sure to have a check-in report drawn up, in English
  2. Ensure that the check-in report comes with photographs of the property
  3. Check whether anything is broken or damaged when you move in. If it is, include it in the report
  4. After moving in, you will have about one month to change or add things to your report. If there was any damage done to the property before you moved in, which you failed to document, you could be penalized for it later

What happens next?

  • The report will be referred back to, when you come to move out
  • Excepting normal wear and tear, the property should be in exactly the same condition as when you moved in
  • Remember that the owner holds your deposit, and you want it back. There is a common joke amongst expats: ‘You don’t really know whether your landlord is nice until you move out’. So, don’t give them any excuses to withhold your deposit money!

Rule 4: Check in properly

Be sure to follow the correct procedure when you first check in to your new (rented) home! The following steps should be taken:

  1. Contracts must be signed by all parties involved
  2. Rent and deposit must be paid into the account of the agent
  3. The tenant should be handed the keys to the property
  4. Ideally, the tenant will be checked in by the owner or his representative, and assisted by his own agent
  5. This is when the checklist should be filled out. It will document the condition of the house, furniture, fixtures and fittings, as well as the condition of the exterior/garden
  6. The inventory will be checked
  7. Checks will be carried out to ensure that the house has been thoroughly cleaned. The inside of kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be spotless
  8. The inspection report, as well as the inventory list, should be signed by both landlord and tenant

Rule 5: Terminate your contract officially

There are several rules surrounding terminating a rental contract in the Netherlands, that often catch expats out. Here we go:

  • 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
  • If you do not stipulate in writing that you will vacate the premises after the initial one-year rental period, then the contract will undergo a ‘silent continuance’, or ‘stilzwijgende verlenging’
  • This means that 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
  • If you wish to continue your lease on a month-to-month basis after the initial one-year period, and your landlord is willing, this can be negotiated
  • You can also make arrangements to continue your rental contract for a longer period of time
  • Any arrangement that you come to with your landlord should be confirmed in writing

Rule 6: Check out properly

Side Note
The notice period you give your landlord, prior to checking out, should be:

  • At least one calendar month, if you have been in the property for under a year. This protects the landlord, if you (the tenant) terminate the contract earlier than expected
  • At least three months, plus one extra month for every year the property has been rented, if you have been renting long term. This protects you, incase your landlord terminates the contract
  • The notice period should never be longer than six months!

Checking Out in NL

This is what should happen:

  • A check-out must be completed with all parties concerned, preferably on the last day of the lease period
  • The inventory and condition of the lease property must be examined 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 to the tenant within three months of 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 tenant

Rule 7: Understand your responsibilities

In 2003, a law was introduced in the Netherlands. It is called the Wet Besluit Kleine Herstellingen‘ . It roughly states that the tenant is responsible for the repair of any damage done to their rental property, if it is unconnected to: the furnace, water system, outside painting and electricity system.

Some expats come from countries where the owner takes care of all issues related to their rental accommodation. Said expats sometimes wrongly assume that this is what happens in the Netherlands too. Remember that the rules of renting are different here!

Tenant Responsibilities in NL

The following matters are the responsibility of you, the tenant:

  • Changing broken light bulbs
  • Fixing loose doorknobs or broken doorbells
  • Descaling faucets
  • Cleaning gutters 

As we have said before, all rental agreements will be different. You may find a landlord who is willing, or even keen, to take care of everything. The key is communication! Just make sure you are clear on the rules, before the contract is signed.

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