Normally, the specific legal aspects to consider when terminating a rental contract, such as the notice period, are written into the contract. If you are the tenant, read the terms and condition carefully to be sure you are not overlooking anything. First consider the notice period should you give to the landlord in order to terminate the rental agreement. You should do this exactly as the relevant contract clause indicates. In some cases, if you are thinking of terminating the contract before the agreed rental period is completed, there may be a financial penalty to pay. For other rental contracts, you may find that you are only obliged to live for a given period of time, e.g. one year in the property. After this point, you are free to serve notice of your intention to end the rental agreement, even if the contracted termination date has not yet been reached.
Dutch tenancy law is framed in such a way that the law protects the tenant from the premature termination of a rental agreement by the landlord. However, it does provide the landlord with the option to include a ‘diplomatic clause’. This clause provides a method for a landlord to terminate a rental contract in cases where the tenant is not willing to vacate the rented property voluntarily. The clause also normally gives the tenant the right to terminate a rental agreement prior to the termination date if certain conditions are met, such as: if you are transferred by your current employer to another location that is a specified distance or more from the current premises, e.g. 50km; or if your employment is terminated by your employer. However, it should be noted that you can only invoke the diplomatic clause if all conditions of the clause have been fulfilled.
Alternatively, a ’force majeure’ clause may be included, which gives you the right to terminate your agreement for unforeseen circumstances beyond your control, provided you inform the landlord or his/her agent in writing at least one full calendar month in advance. This clause essentially frees both parties from their obligations if the unexpected happens. You will normally be required to state the reasons for your desire to terminate the tenancy agreement. If the reason for the termination is a transfer or termination of employment, as described above, such notice should be countersigned by your employer. It is then at the discretion of the landlord if the reasons you provide are acceptable.
After giving notice, you should expect the property owner or his/her agent to arrange for an inspection of the accommodation with you at least two weeks prior to the date you wish to vacate the premises. A comparison will be made of the state of the property with the details provided in the inspection report drawn up at the start of the tenancy agreement. A transfer report may be issued by the owner or his/her agent which specifies any maintenance and restoration work that is required to be undertaken by the tenant prior to termination of the tenancy agreement.
Another important aspect is the refund of the deposit. Theoretically, the owner should refund this amount in full. However, the owner has the right to make deductions for damage to the property or to cover any rental arrears or any services or utilities provided by and paid for by the landlord and not included in the rental fee.
Sometimes, the rental contract requires you to clean the carpets, windows, curtains, cooking appliances, etc. before leaving the house. A cleaning company can help you with this. To find a cleaning company in your area, have a look in the Gouden gids (yellow pages) or your local newspaper under schoonmaakbedrijven (cleaning companies). Ask if they also carry out work for particulieren (individuals)