What you need to know before renting an apartment in The Netherlands

Renting an apartment in The Netherlands can be overwhelming, time-consuming, and energy-consuming. 

The researches show that moving is in the top five stressors, along with the death of a loved one, divorce, major illnesses, injuries, and job loss.

Whether you have already decided or are still thinking about it, we’re here to help you with this process. You’re making a significant change in your life, and we want to alleviate it for you as much as possible.

Is it hard to rent in the Netherlands

Sincerely speaking – yes. Finding an apartment in the Netherlands can sometimes feel like a Misson Impossible. 

Renting in the Netherlands isn’t only reserved for foreigners, it’s common among both locals and expats. At the same time, immigration to the Netherlands grows yearly. All these factors, united with limited capacity, affect availability and price.

migration netherlands

Demand in the housing market is growing faster than supply

Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports that, as of January 1, 2022, the average annual rent has increased by 3%. This change is influenced by extended demand. 

There is currently a shortage of 390,000 homes in the Netherlands. The causes of this problem are registration regulations, privatization, and population growth. 

The forecasted shortage of available properties has affected their price as expected. Government helps working-class families with different programs – like the rent allowence, but single individuals struggle more to find a roof over their heads.

To be clear, the rent isn’t growing on a random basis. The Netherlands uses a points system to determine the property’s value and rent. The number of points depends on the size of a property, the facilities, and whether it’s self-contained or not. The rent is then based on the number of points.

If you think your rent is too high, you can ask The Rent Tribunal to do a rent assessment.

What is the rent allowance in the Netherlands

rent allowance netherlands

A rent allowance is a government contribution to your rental costs. Your eligibility for the rent benefit and the amount of money you receive depends on

  • your age
  • who do you live with
  • rental price
  • combined household earnings

To qualify for the help of the Dutch government, you need to:

  • Have a signed rental agreement with your landlord
  • Live in a self-sufficient home with a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen
  • Be registered at the same address
  • Be of legal age
  • Have a valid residence permit
  • Have a low income

From January 1, 2020, there are no more income limits. The government focuses on your rent, your age, and the composition of your household.

What is Dutch social housing

Social housing in the Netherlands is housing with subsidized rent. This way, it’s more affordable to marginalized groups.

While researching your renting options, you probably came across social housing. 

It’s a perfect solution for
☞ those who have low income,
☞ those who have a disability,
☞ those who are vulnerable in some way,
☞ elderly,
☞ students,
☞ refugees, and
☞ homeless persons.

To be able to apply for social housing, you must:

  • Register with your region’s social housing association 
  • Get a housing permit; most municipalities require that you have a legitimate reason for residing in social housing (e.g., work, family, or school)
  • Complete the requirements of the housing association (provide the documents as proof of your low income and the size of your family)
  • Have an income that does not exceed the amount determined by the law

This year, people with a yearly income of up to 40.765 euros for single persons and 45.014 euros for multi-person households are eligible for social housing.

After applying, you will get on a waiting list. Your housing organization will provide you with available properties on its website. It’s up to you to apply to the one you are interested in. 

The selection process may take some time. Housing corporations will consider you if you fulfill their requirements. The most important one is that you don’t earn above the law-defined yearly income. 

Is moving to the Netherlands a good idea

dutch streets

If you want to move to the land of windmills, you need to be prepared. You won’t be fighting them like Don Quixote, but adjusting to a new country and culture can be exhausting. It will take time, will, and patience. It’s up to you to decide if moving here is a good idea. 

However, here are some things you can take into consideration: 

  • High living standard

The costs of living are steep. Even with good earnings, you will find living in the Netherlands expensive. 

This especially applies to bigger cities like Amsterdam, The Hague, and Rotterdam. 

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a pro, but high living standards come with high-quality products and services. In the long run, it is a positive side. 

  • Traffic 

Again, depends on how you look at it. 

In a densely populated country, you have endless traffic jams. To avoid wasting hours in your car, use public transport. You have well-connected trams and metros as an option. An even better solution for traffic issues is cycling. 

The major pros of living here are exceptionally well-maintained bicycle lanes. Yet, cycling is not always practical, which brings us to the next point.

  • Weather

For a land of colorful tulips, the Netherlands sure has gray weather. Luckily, the days last longer then in  Central Europe, and you have enormous windows on buildings to get as much lights as possible. 

Rainy days are frequent, so raincoats are a must if you want to cycle from and to your work. 

More bicycles plus more rain equals fresh air. That is always a plus in our book.

  • Social life

If you’re an extrovert, you will thrive here. 

You can enjoy small gatherings in coffee shops or famous summer festivals. You’ll be glad to hear that the Dutch are friendly and always up for a chat. 

At first, you might be surprised by how direct everyone is, but that lifestyle will soon get under your skin. 

Buying vs. Renting

Should I buy or should I rent? This is a common question that you may ask yourself as well. Both options have their pros and cons, and the right answer is individual, and it depends on your needs, preferences, and possibilities. 

However, you may want to rent rather than buy an apartment in the Netherlands. Mostly because renting gives you more flexibility and less responsibility. 

As a renter, you have the flexibility to use your time in the apartment as a trial period. You can move out easier, and you don’t have much responsibility for maintenance. 

Another thing in favor of renting is the Dutch rent allowance for low income. More on this topic a bit later. 

As an owner, you have something to call your own and can alter it as you wish. But buying an apartment can be risky. It can take several months, and the buying process and bureaucracy costs around 6% of the sale price. 

Renting is a choice if you are new in the area or staying in the Netherlands for less than three years.

How to find an apartment for rent in the Netherlands

dutch apartment

  • Renting a property through an agency

Involving an agency requires extra costs (administration fee), but it’s worth it in countries such as the Netherlands. You can relax and not worry about being scammed because this is a clean house renting. 

The agency does all the heavy lifting and deals with all aspects of the transaction. In return, you will be paying an agency fee that is equal to one month’s rent, excluding 21% VAT. Another cost that will appear quite soon on your renting journey is the deposit. Most of the time, it is equal to 1-2 months of rent, depending on how expensive the furniture is or the apartment itself.

After that, you’ll need to provide all the necessary information and undergo a credit check. 

To rent an apartment, you will need to share the following documents with the agency:

  • Proof of Dutch residency status
  • Passport or ID
  • Proof of earnings, Dutch bank statements, or employment contract
  • You may be asked for your citizen service number (BSN)

Renting through a private landlord

The process is similar except for agency admin costs. Renting through a landlord may save you money, but it can be risky.

 Make sure to take all possible steps to avoid scams and to sign a proper contract with all your tenant rights protected.

Where to rent in the Netherlands

The location of your future apartment will influence its rental price. Amsterdam and The Hague have the highest rent prices because of the enormous demand.

Also, the best location for you will depend on your needs, whether you’re a family with kids, a student, a solopreneur, or a digital nomad. 

How to avoid rental scams in the Netherlands

Renting in the Netherlands is difficult, but let’s put a cherry on top of this beautiful chaos – scams. It would help if you looked out to avoid rental scams and save your cash.

  • Skip unbelievably good offers

First of all, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Remember the housing shortage we mentioned? Your dream apartment exists, but you won’t like the price of it. If you like it, there’s a high chance of it being a Dutch housing scam.

  • Double-check landlords and agencies

When the landlord gives you too much information or connects you with someone else, it’s a red flag. You’re being scammed if the so-called landlord is not in the country and can’t show you the apartment. They have something to hide if they are pressuring you to sign the lease immediately.

Before renting, you should make a good Sherlock impression. Do thorough research on your landlord’s profile. We can give you tips and tricks if you’re on Facebook 

  • Carefully with Marketplace 

Avoid shady profiles that don’t have all the necessary information. Look at the pages they’ve liked; it might be a scam if most are in a foreign language. Always click the “See Seller’s Other Listings” button. If the advertiser has the same property listed in different locations, it’s a scam.

  • Scan all photos to the detail

 If you can spot a mountain through the window, it’s not the Netherlands. Make sure the power outlets are the ones with two circular holes. 

Look out for anything that stands out, anything not Dutch-like. We advise you to do a reverse image search on the images to see if they appear elsewhere on the web.

  • Pay only to Dutch bank accounts

Scammers only care about money, so be smart with how you pay. Try to avoid paying with cash since it leaves no paper trail. 

Get them to sign a receipt or record the verbal interaction on your phone if you can’t. 

If you’re paying via bank transfer, check if the bank account is Dutch and if it matches your landlord’s name.

Never pay them via money transfer services like Western Union and especially not via Airbnb.

What are the rules of a tenancy agreement

dutch tenancy agreement

Once you find the apartment, it’s time for paperwork. You’ll need to sign a tenancy agreement with your landlord, so you’re safe.
Your tenancy agreement sets out the terms and conditions agreed upon by the tenant and landlord. You need to define the type of your contract. 

There are two types of tenancy contracts in the Netherlands:

  • fixed-term contracts
  • indefinite tenancy agreements

Fixed-term contracts are more common. They are usually 1-2 years long with a one-month notice period. 

Indefinite tenancy agreements are rolling contracts. They don’t need to be renewed with a possibility of 6 months set period. Any parties wanting to end the contract must give the notice period. 

You can move from fixed-term contracts to indefinite ones in some cases after the first few years.

The tenancy contract should include the following:

  • Your essential monthly rent with a due-date
  • Any extra charges, such as utility bills
  • Details on when the landlord can review rental costs
  • Type of contract (fixed or indefinite)
  • Notice period information
  • Maintenance agreements
  • House rules
  • Tenant and landlord signatures

Beware: It’s illegal for landlords to charge you any fee without explaining it. The same applies to utility payments. The landlord must issue you an account showing expenses and actual costs at least once a year. The average utility gas, water, and electricity costs are between 150 and 175 euros per month. 

Your rights as a tenant

Landlords can only evict tenants with a good reason, and the legal action behind it can take a long time. Even though Dutch rental law is protective of a tenant, you shouldn’t give them any good eviction reason. 

As a renter, you should complete the following duties:

  • Pay your rent, and any other agreed monthly fees on time
  • Follow the agreed house rules by contract
  • Pay for minor repairs such as changing the light-bulbs
  • Pay for the repair of any damage caused by yourself
  • Allow the landlord access for necessary repairs or inspections with previously prepared notice
  • Give valid reasons and notice when terminating the contract

Landlord rights

With at least 24h notice, the landlord has earned the right to visit your apartment. 

In a justified case of eviction, the landlord must go through the Dutch courts, which can take around 3-6 months. 

The proprietor needs to:

  • Respect your privacy (no visits without notice)
  • Cover any necessary major repairs and maintenance
  • Solve any problems affecting the tenant (plumbing, electricity, or Internet)
  • Give valid reasons when terminating the contract

Being prepared is half-done work

We sure gave you a lot to think about. It’s ok to be overwhelmed, but it’s more important to be prepared. The more you know about the renting situation in the Netherlands, the more you’ll be able to confront all the obstacles along the way. 

Remember that you can always lean on an agency regarding legal stuff. Some costs are worth paying. 

Side note, in between learning about rental law and scams, you can take a break in certain coffee shops. Just don’t go overboard.

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