Housing in the Netherlands
Should I buy or rent a house or apartment in the Netherlands?
You may consider the following points before deciding to buy or rent a house:
- The length of your stay: for a short period, it may be best to rent a house/apartment because of the costs associated with buying (approximately 6-7% of the purchase price) and potential renovation costs
- Your budget: if you wish to buy, the bank will consider your income and assets to determine your maximum mortgage amount
- Tax returns: depending on personal situation and taxable income
I want to rent or buy a property. Can you advise me how to find one?
The safest, most efficient way to find a rental property or to buy a house in the private market is to use the services of a makelaar (real estate agent) with experience in helping expats to find one for you. Visit several agents to get a feel.
You can start by contacting the NVM – Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars (Dutch Association of Estate Agents) on www.nvm.nl/overnvm/about (only a few pages in English, more information in Dutch).
NVM’s property site Funda.nl contains information about the houses in the various provinces; details can be selected by city, neighbourhood, building period, property type, size and price range. Here you will find both properties to rent and to buy (rent is called ‘huur’ and to buy is called ‘koop’)
If you need a list of estate agents in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk.
Check HousingAnywhere for accommodation in:
I need to find temporary accommodation for my family. Is it possible to find a short-term rental property in the Netherlands?
You can find short-term rentals with a minimum term of one week to a maximum of six months. They are nearly always fully furnished.
On arrival to the Netherlands, you need to register with the municipality. It is advisable to check with the landlord if he will allow you to register at this address. Otherwise, you can inquire with your employer if you can use their address for registration.
What is the difference between a short-stay apartment and a hotel room?
In comparison to a hotel, a short-stay apartment may offer more comfort, more space and more privacy with lower rates. Short-stay apartments are a great solution for:
- flexible workers who are working on a project for weeks or months
- accommodating friends and families who are visiting
- new arrivals who first want to explore the city before renting long term
- a temporary stay while renovating or moving
How can I find a student room?
Renting a student room is difficult. All student towns share the difficulty of finding accommodation at a reasonable price, especially in cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and The Hague. Help should be available from the university that you are studying at; they often have dedicated departments to help students find a suitable accommodation. They may even have a department which helps foreign students. Your university is a good place to start your search. If your university cannot help you, see below other suggestions:
- Contact the municipality for information about low-priced rooms
- Look for non-commercial agencies for students. Consider renting an anti-kraak (anti-squatter house). An anti-squatter house is a way of using an empty apartment or house in order to avoid squatters taking possession of it. A small group of people live in the house temporarily for a low rent and with little legal protection
- Check websites such as Kamernet.nl/en or join facebook groups by keyword + location (e.g. search for ‘rental student rooms Amsterdam’ or ‘rent a room in Utrecht’)
- Check out if there is a room available at the Student Hotel in your city of residence
Which neighbourhoods are popular for expats?
Most foreigners settle in the Randstad, which is the name for the areas that encompass Amsterdam, Haarlem, Leiden, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht. Many international corporations are located in this region, as well as international schools, shops, churches and social clubs. Within the Randstad and in other parts of country, like Maastricht and Eindhoven, there are many options for various living spaces. Areas surrounding the international schools are usually very popular with expats.
I have just moved to the Netherlands and would like to hire cleaning staff. I want to do it the official way and hire a person/company with all the necessary paperwork. Can you please let me know how I should go about this and whom I should contact?
There are many companies in the Netherlands that provide legal and documented home cleaning services. Sometimes be difficult to find a trust-worthy one. You can start by asking advice from your neighbours or your relocation/real estate agent. If you decide to hire professional cleaners via a website, we suggest you to make at least two referral checks before handing over your keys. Please note that the rate for professional cleaners is approximately €25 per hour. Some websites provides information in English as well as Dutch.
If you need a list of such companies in your area, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here.
How can I avoid scams when looking for a rental property?
In general, it is most safe to rent via an organisation that is a member of the Dutch association of estate agents (Nederlandse Vereniging van Makelaars known – NVM). If you consider renting via an unaffiliated makelaar (real estate agent), the following tips can help:
- Does it sound too good to be true? Then it probably is
- Avoid landlords who only offer an email address, a mobile phone number and/or a Facebook page. Ask for a business address or a residential address, check the person or company via the internet and check the ID. Be aware that ID’s sent via email can be fake
- Visit the property before accepting it. If you can’t do this by yourself because you are abroad, ask somebody else to do it on your behalf
- Check who owns the house/apartment via the kadaster (property register) at www.kadaster.nl/web/artikel/producten/Eigendomsinformatie (mainly in Dutch). In order to obtain the information, a small fee has to be paid. If the landlord and the owner are not the same, ask for a written explanation that the landlord/agency is acting on behalf of the owner
- Before paying your landlord, make sure the keys work
- Pay by bank. If this is not possible, make sure you have a receipt signed by the landlord. When you pay in cash, consider recording the conversation via your mobile phone
- Keep a file of all emails and other document
- If your landlord doesn’t allow you to register with the municipality at that address, he is most likely doing something illegal
Not sure? Have further questions? Consult here the different organisations that offers the latest updates on rules and regulations as well as legal advise.
What are the standard practices for renting via a makelaar (real estate agent)?
In general, the minimum rental period for an unfurnished dwelling is one year, but sometimes a shorter lease is possible.
It is also standard that the tenant will get a diplomatenclausule (diplomatic clause). This means that if, on account of his/her work, the tenant will be transferred to a place 50 km or more removed from the premises or if he/she has to leave the premises for reasons beyond his/her control, the tenant is entitled to terminate this agreement prematurely. In this case, the tenant has to give the owner one to two full calendar months’ notice.
Rent is due before the first day of each month, and you pay it either directly to your landlord or to an agency that operates between you and the landlord.
Legally, the length of time required to terminate your contract is equal to the regular time period for which you pay your rent. For example, if the rent is paid every month, then the termination period for your contract is also one month. The period of termination may not be less than one month or more than three months.
When you sign the lease on a property, you often have to pay one month’s rent in advance as a deposit or a bank guarantee will be needed when renting a house. This amount is refunded if the house is in a satisfactory condition at the end of your stay.
The real estate agent is not allowed to charge you anything for helping. They often charge approximately one month’s rent (plus VAT) and call it service costs, but this is not allowed. If you rented an apartment in the past five years and you were charged agency fees, usually about a month’s rent plus taxes, this might not have been legal. If so, you might be able to claim a refund. More information how to do this is available on https://www.wooninfo.nl/english/reclaim-unjust-agency-fees/.
Am I required to pay a commission fee?
Usually the tenant does not have to pay a commission fee. If a rental agent works for both the tenant and landlord, he is not allowed to charge a commission to a tenant. He has to charge the landlord for this.
A rental agent is only allowed to work for both tenant and landlord if the tenant agrees with that in writing. There are two exceptions to the rule that tenants do not need to pay a commission:
- The rental agent assists in finding the so called ‘onzelfstandige woonruimte’, i.e. housing without your own front door (such as student rooms) and/or without exclusive use of a kitchen, bathroom and toilet
- If a rental agency is not working for the landlord, but only for the tenant. In these situations, it is allowed to ask a commission from the tenant
If you rented an apartment in the past five years and you were charged agency fees, usually about a month’s rent plus taxes, this might not have been legal. If so, you might be able to claim a refund. More information how to do this is available on https://www.wooninfo.nl/english/reclaim-unjust-agency-fees/.
What is the process of finalising the deal while renting a property?
In the Netherlands, verbal agreements regarding renting a house are still binding but a written agreement is preferred. The prices quoted on the listings are usually negotiable, and your agent will negotiate a contract with the owner’s agent. This will often be done verbally. A written contract will be made to finalise the deal. Once the contract has been signed by both parties and the rent and the deposit have been paid, then the property is yours.
How about taking possession?
We advise you to insist on a formal check by the owner or the agent. Under normal circumstances, a checklist will be filled in regarding the condition of the house, furnishings and fixtures, and the condition of the exterior/garden. To avoid any conflict when you leave the property, it is advisable to check the following beforehand: the inside of the kitchen and bathroom cabinets, curtains and carpeting are clean, and the garden is neat and tidy. The central heating and chimneys should have been checked and serviced. You are expected to hand the house back to the owner in the same condition as you received it. It is best to take photos with dates as evidence for your records so getting back your deposit later should not be an issue. Also the meter stand readings for the electricity, water and gas should be noted.
I have rented a house and some repairs are needed. Who is responsible for this: the landlord or I?
When you rent a property, the landlord is responsible for almost all repairs. Only some small things like painting the walls inside and replacing the toilet seat are at your expense. Generally, these small things don’t cost much money. If you experience anything that needs to be repaired by the landlord, you need to inform him about that.
What should I do when I want to hand the property back to the landlord?
When you want to hand the property back, make an appointment for an inspection by the landlord. If the property is in a good condition, you can hand over the key and you will get your deposit back. If the landlord blames you for certain problems and you don’t agree, make sure you can prove with documents that the problem is not your fault and already existed when you took possession of the property. The checklist you filled in when you took possession can be very useful in this.
I have some issues and contract disputes with my landlord on the room/house that I am renting. Can ACCESS provide me with some legal advice or is there a legal authority that I can go to or consult regarding these issues?
ACCESS cannot offer legal advice directly. However, the following organisations can assist you concerning disputes with your landlord:
- Fair rent commission (Huurcommisie): this is an independent organisation that mediates differences between you and the landlord about maintenance, rental price and costs of additional services. You can visit their website on www.huurcommissie.nl (in Dutch only) or contact them for free and in English. Their telephone number is:0800-4887243 (free of charge). The huurcommissie deals with issues between tenant and landlord only for for social housing.
- Dutch Legal Desk (Het Juridisch Loket): this is a legal desk that helps you with legal questions including those about property rentals. You may contact them via their website Juridischloket.nl (in Dutch only, not always available) or call them at 0800 8020 (free of charge)
- WOON: this is an independent not-for-profit organisation. It offers free advice and support on tenancy rights if you live in Amsterdam. You can visit their website on www.wooninfo.nl/english.
- Your municipality. As of 1 January 2024 all municipalities must have a point of contact for tenants who have issues with their landlor.
If you need a list of lawyers in your area who could offer you legal advice, please contact the ACCESS Helpdesk here
I have signed my rental contract but I realise only now that some things in the contract are not fair. What can I do about it?
When you have signed a rental contract, it is final. However, if there are any issues in the contract that are against the law, the law is always binding. If you think this might be the case, it is best to seek legal advice. You should, of course, discuss the issues with your landlord and see if he is willing to change the contract.
The contract is in my partner’s name and she/he is leaving the Netherlands. May I continue living in the house?
If a rental contract is in your partner’s name and she/he is planning to move out, you will not be allowed to continue living there unless you can get the name in the contract changed. Best practice is to put both the names in the contract initially.
How can I get water, electricity and gas connections?
In many cases, the utilities (gas, water and electricity) will already be available in your home and you only need to transfer them into your name. Your makelaar (real estate agent) will usually help you with transferring contracts of your new home to your name. We suggest you to bear in mind the following:
- Note and check the meter readings when moving into another house as bills are based on the previous year’s consumption for the property. Discrepancies are corrected at the end of the year and refunds or additional bills are issued accordingly
- Gas and electricity are both supplied by the same provider; water is arranged separately
- If the rent is inclusive, check your contract carefully for what is covered
Should you need to set up a account see below the pre-requisites:
- A passport or ID card (proof of identity)
- Proof of occupancy (rental contract, house deeds)
- A bank statement or proof of residence available from the municipality’s personal records database (Basisregistratie Persoonsgegevens (BRP))
Please note that he Dutch energy market is privatised, thus enabling you to choose or change your supplier. Regulatory authorities ensure fair practices and tariffs.
Products, tariffs and services may vary from company to company. Should you decide to change company, remember to check and be aware of the conditions for cancelling a contract or switching providers. Here some tips for choosing a service provider:
- Check the term of your contract to know when you can switch for free. If you want to switch immediately check the cost of doing it before the term in the contract ends
- Check what you’re paying for electricity and gas as opposed to what you consume
- Compare the prices and contracts of various energy companies
- Determine whether you want the contract for a definite period or indefinite
- Check whether you want grey or green energy
- Check whether you have a fixed price or variable price to pay
- Keep an eye on special promotions or discounts
- Check the terms and conditions of the contract carefully
- Check whether there are any hidden costs, for example, energy tax, standing charges and transportation costs
- Check the payment options, for example what is the cost of paying by giro
- Find out which water company is covering your area at www.vewin.nl (enter your postcode on the top-right box ‘Zoek uw waterbedrijf’)
- Compare energy suppliers in the Netherlands: Energievergelijken.nl (Dutch only)
- Click here to know more about how to connect to all utilities and billing-related queries
How can I get connected to telephone, Internet and TV?
In the Netherlands, telephone, Internet and TV are available digitally and/or via cable. Many providers offer bundles of all three services. It is important to bear in mind the length of your stay and your location, as not all providers have a complete country network. Satellite television is also an option, but you need to fix a satellite dish in the right direction and there are regulations covering this
For both landline and mobile telephone, there are several providers offering subscriptions. For mobile phones, you can also choose for a prepaid option instead of a subscription but they are usually more expensive. Top-up cards can be bought at most telephone stores and supermarkets. It is also possible to top up your prepaid credit via the Internet and by phone. Nowadays, if you have a subscription with a mobile company in an EU country you can use internet and phone calls at the usual rates. Calls within the EU have no roaming costs anymore.
It is advisable to compare price, quality and always read the small print. You can compare tariffs and conditions at the following websites:
- For All-in-1 bundles & Internet+phone subscriptions visit: Breedbandwinkel.nl/expats (in Dutch only)
- For a comparison of prices of different providers visit: Bellen.com (in Dutch only) or Prijsvergelijken.nl/compare-broadband
For your information 0800 numbers are toll free; 0900 numbers are charged (per call or minute).
Are there any special rules for collecting household waste?
In many cities households have two separate waste containers: green for waste from vegetables, fruit and garden (groente-, fruit- en tuinafval, GFT) and grey/brown for all remaining waste (restafval). Both containers are emptied once a week or alternating weeks. If your municipality has decided that household waste should be compulsorily separated, you will receive a fine for non-organic waste placed in the green container.
You need to put your waste/bins outside your house at the time set by your municipality. If you don’t, you may be fined.
Glass, paper, plastic and clothing/textiles, medicines and batteries, small electrical appliances and bulbs can be deposited in special containers in your neighbourhood. Bottles and cans should be returned for cash. Other types of waste (oversized household waste, domestic chemical waste etc.) can be brought to one of the city’s garbage and recycling stations.
If you live in an apartment building with rubbish bins or underground containers, you can throw away your rubbish in these containers anytime. Be aware of any specific rules that may apply to the tenants of the building.
What factors should I take into account before buying a house or apartment?
A very important factor when buying a property is that you are clearly aware of the property’s legal standing. This means that you need to check whether it is eigen grond (freehold) or erfpacht (leasehold) property. If your potential house is freehold, then you fully own the plot and the house. Leasehold would mean that you only own the house but not the plot (this is the case for apartments as well). This means you will be paying an annual fee for renting the plot. Your real estate agent can provide this information.
Existing houses are usually sold as ‘kosten koper (kk)’. This means that all additional costs such as overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) and notariskosten (notary costs) must be paid by the buyer.
New houses are usually sold as ‘vrij op naam (V.O.N.)’. This means that the purchase price includes BTW (VAT), property transfer tax and notary costs.
Bouwtechnisch onderzoek (construction inspection)
It is strongly advised to ask an expert for a bouwkundig onderzoek (construction inspection). This person will check things such as:
- crawl space (if accessible) and floors, drainage, ventilation, piping in crawl space
- state of the facades, roof, chimneys, window frames, gutters, roof, and chimneys
- determination of the presence of lead pipes and risk carbon monoxide
- fire safety and asbestos suspected.
The real estate agent who sells the house often recommends someone to do this. However, this person may not be independent. Therefore it is best to ask your own real estate agent for an expert. If you don’t have a real estate agent it may be useful to ask advice from the Vereniging Eigen Huis https://www.eigenhuis.nl/#/ (Dutch only). This is an interest group for home owners
Things to consider when buying a house or apartment
When buying a house or apartment, take the following things into consideration:
- Research appropriate neighbourhoods considering: housing prices, access to public transportation, green spaces, distance/time to your work, location of schools
- View properties during the day then again in the evening to notice any potential problems and have a sense of the area
- Limit your viewings each day
- Be sure to take photos and jot down notes
- Ask questions and strike up conversations with the estate agent, the seller and people in the area
- Take into account your estate agent’s advice
- Inquire about: who owns the property, how long it has been on the market, how many viewings there have been, how many bids have been made, why it is for sale, and how quickly it needs to be sold
- If possible, do not get into a bidding war and avoid sealed bid offers
What costs are involved in buying a house or apartment?
It pays to visit a bank or mortgage broker for free advice before you start considering buying property to get an idea of the total costs involved. In general, about 10% of the purchase price will be needed on top to pay for various taxes and fees:
- Hypotheekkosten (mortgage fee): around 1%
- Taxatierapporten (valuation/appraisal costs): if a mortgage is needed. Costs between 300-1,000 euros
- Makelaarkosten (real estate agent fees): not always involved but if it applies, costs vary between 1-2 percent of the price of the property
- Notariskosten: the notaris (notary) is needed to register the sale and the mortgage. It is usually between 1,000-3,000 euros
Note that the deposit on the property is 10% of the purchase price, paid six weeks after the purchase agreement has been signed. This may be replaced by a bank guarantee issued by a Dutch bank.
What other costs should I consider before buying a house in Netherlands?
When you buy a house, you have to pay the overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax) which is calculated based on a fixed percentage of the sale price agreed with the seller. No overdrachtsbelasting has to be paid if you get (part of) a house through divorce, marriage or inheritance. Currently (2021) the overdrachtsbelasting (transfer tax) is 2%.
Which process should I follow when buying a house?
Buying a property in the Netherlands is relatively straightforward but there are some steps you need to take.
Finding a makelaar (real estate agent)
Buying a property without a makelaar is legal but not advisable. In the Netherlands you can work with only one makelaar, unlike other countries. When house hunting, submit a list of the characteristics you are looking for in a house to your makelaar. This enables your makelaar to make a selection of interesting properties for you to visit. To make sure that you get proper help, contact a makelaar who is experienced at buying houses for expats.
The makelaar can help you from the beginning to the end of the house hunting process, including the technical inspection, the negotiations, the understanding of the bidding system along with the administrative work that comes with buying a house.
Is it compulsory to have a written contract to buy a house or is a verbal agreement binding as well in the Netherlands?
When buying, a verbal contract is no longer binding (contrary to rental agreements). A purchase agreement will need to be drawn up. After signing, you have three working days to change your mind and you also get a couple of weeks to obtain a mortgage from a bank.
I have made an offer and signed a ‘contract of sale’ for a house. Can I still withdraw the offer?
Yes, there is a lawful period which is valid for three working days. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down the property.
It is also standard to have a clause that allows you to pull out in case you cannot secure a mortgage. Always check if this clause is in your contract. In case you are unable to get a mortgage, you need to provide proof of this from two different banks; otherwise you face financial liabilities up to 10% of the deposit.
I am considering buying an apartment. I have heard that I will become a member of a VvE (Vereniging van Eigenaren, Association of Owners). Can you explain what this is and what they do?
A Vereniging van Eigenaren – VvE (association of owners) is responsible for, and makes decisions about, the common parts of a building and the ground that belongs to it. Their work consists mainly of making decisions about maintenance and use of these common areas. For apartments, it is law nowadays to have a VvE. The fire insurance for the building is always arranged through the VvE. The details of the property and the obligations towards it will be registered in your purchase contract.
What does a notary do in the Netherlands?
Notaries occupy a special place in the world of legal professionals in the Netherlands, alongside advocaten (attorneys-at-law), deurwaarders (bailiffs) and belastingconsulenten (tax advisors). Notaries are authorised to draw up deeds, especially concerning: family law, property law and corporate law
Under the Dutch legal system, a notaris (notary) is required to weigh up and balance the interests of all the parties to a legal transaction. A notary is independent of all parties. For example, when a property is transferred, a notaris acts for both the seller and the buyer.
What legal services does a notary provide?
Apart from providing legal advice, a notaris (notary) also records agreements, either because the law requires it or it is in the parties’ request. The formal deed drawn up by a notary constitutes definite proof that the date and the parties’ signatures are correct. A notary is required to retain the original deeds and to issue the parties with certified copies.
The law requires a deed for a number of agreements and legal transactions such as transferring a property in the Netherlands and creating or cancelling mortgages. Normally, the procedures involved are as follows:
Lawful period to ‘think over’
This is known in the Netherlands as wettelijke bedenktijd. Through this act, a verbal agreement should be written down in a voorlopige koopakte (provisional purchase deed). This is valid for three working days so that the buyer can change her/his mind. During this period, you are legally allowed to turn down a property, and you can hire experts to inspect the property. Ask your agent for further details.
Agreement of sale
Once the deal has been made, the selling agent will draw up a koopakte (purchase deed) and will invite you to sign the purchase deed. Ensure that you have thoroughly and carefully read through the purchase deal. Do make sure that all the agreements are mentioned in the purchase deed before you sign. Only in Amsterdam is the notary involved in this part of the process and can help you with legal advice on judicial questions and terms of sales, etc. In the rest of the Netherlands the selling and purchase agent will do this part together with their clients.
Once all the parties involved have signed the deal, the notary will organise the transfer. He or she will draw up the akte van levering (the terms of delivery) for the handover. He or she will also help with the hypotheekakte (deed of terms and conditions of mortgage). The buyer is free to choose his or her own notary. The purchase deed includes a penalty clause in case any of the parties do not comply with its terms.
It is advisable to discuss the marital situation or registered partnership with the notary; it may have legal consequences while selling the property. A marriage or registered partnership in ‘general community of property’ means that all the property and debts of each partner are shared. The same holds true if you have an official cohabitation agreement older than five years, unless you have a notarised statement indicating otherwise (i.e. a prenuptial agreement or similar).
Once both the parties have signed the deed of purchase, the deal is closed and the property is technically yours. A verbal agreement is not binding. An important clause in the purchase deed is that the deed can be cancelled if the buyer cannot obtain the necessary finances – the financial clause. This financial clause has an expiration date normally after five weeks; within that period the mortgage has to be finalized. Between the provisional and the final purchase deed, which is usually on the day you get the key to the house, all details referring to the mortgage are finalised. Your mortgage provider will request an appraisal report (by an independent real estate agent) for assessing the value of the mortgage in relation to the value of the property.
The notary will register all deeds at the kadaster (land registry). This includes the leveringsakte (deed of conveyance) and the hypotheekakte (mortgage deed). All necessary papers will be drawn up by the notary, such as a deed of transfer. He or she will check all these papers for you.
Deposit or prepayment
A waarborgsom (deposit) of 10% of the purchase price or more has to be transferred by the buyer to the notary after the sale agreement has been made. In the meantime, it is wise to get a home inspection done by a technical expert. The deposit is made by the buyer to the account of the notary. A bank guarantee is also accepted as an alternative to a deposit. Before the final payment you can ask your agent to note down the meter readings and check the house to be sure that it has been vacated as agreed.
The levering or judicial transfer of ownership of the property is done by the notary on the day of the transfer mentioned in the purchase deal, and takes place at the office of the notary. The actual delivery of the property occurs when the keys are handed over.
How much do I pay for a notary service?
Notaries are free to set their own fees. The fees are based upon tariffs or rates, (which vary depending on the sale price of the property and on the amount of the financial loan) and it is sometimes possible to negotiate the notary fees and the percentage charged by the notary. It is advisable to contact more than one notary, in order to compare fees.
What is the difference between the private market and the social housing market for rental properties?
There are two markets for rental properties in the Netherlands: the private rental market and the social housing market. The rent usually excludes user’s costs, i.e. utilities, municipal levies for rubbish collection, garden maintenance and other extra costs.
In the private market, properties are usually rented out by private persons and commercial companies.
Property listings in the Netherlands always mention the number of kamers (rooms), which includes the living room and the bedrooms. For example, a driekamerwoning (three-room house) is a two-bedroom house.
Until 1 May 2024 the annual rent increase is limited by law. More information is available here.
There are three types of rental homes: ongemeubileerd (unfurnished), gestoffeerd (partly furnished) and gemeubileerd (fully furnished).
Sociale huurwoning (social housing) is generally only available to low income families, and there are long waiting lists for properties. Due to these long waiting lists (many years), it is very difficult for expats to rent such a housing. If you do qualify for social housing, you may also qualify for a huurtoeslag (housing benefit).
The maximum rent and the annual rent increase is always limited by law.
Find more information here.
What are the conditions to qualify for social housing?
Please note that conditions may change from one year to another but here you have the main ones:
- There is a maximum gross income a year that you can have
- Sociale-huurwoning refers to houses with a lower rent than private housing.
- You need to register at a housing corporation
Find more information at the Government’s website version in English: www.government.nl/topics/housing/rented-housing.
How can I get a huurtoeslag?
If you meet the requirements, you can apply for a huurtoeslag (housing benefit) from the Dutch government. The main aim of the benefit is to enable people with a low income to afford a place to live. In order to qualify for the benefit, you:
- must be over 18 years of age
- your rent, joint income and capital (yours and any person registered at the same address) must meet certain criteria (they should not be too high). In 2021 the maximum annual income is 40,024 euros.
- must be living in a rented property and pay maximum of 752.33 euros (in 2021) – Including servicekosten (service costs).
- must be the tenant of an independent property (e.g. an apartment)
- must be registered in the gemeente (municipality) as a tenant of this particular property
If you qualify, you should apply for the housing benefit by completing an application form at the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) website. If your application is successful, your benefit will be calculated based on your personal income and the personal income of any family members or partners who live with you, as well as the cost of the rent and any running costs. The size of your family and the number of children you have will also be taken into account if these family members live with you.
Please note that the mentioned requirements may vary if you are between 18-23 years old or you receive the AOW pension. Find the last up-to-date information regarding the income and eligibility requirements for the house benefit here (in Dutch only).
What insurances are compulsory for my home?
Anyone who has bought a house is obliged to take out opstalverzekering (residential premises insurance). This is a condition to get a mortgage. If you have bought an apartment, your Vereniging van Eigenaren – VvE (homeowners association) should provide the insurance. Otherwise, you have to arrange this insurance yourself.
A popular insurance in the Netherlands is the so-called inboedelverzekering (household contents insurance), which covers damage to your household goods caused by fire, burglary, explosion, storms, water, and various other factors. The sum insured will usually be subject to the average value of the contents in a house, so it is important that the sum insured is up-to-date.
The owners of furnished rented properties usually pay the residential premises insurance for expats renting a house or apartment. Check this with the owner.
Should I consider taking out additional insurances for my home and my possessions?
If you are renting a place, it is advisable that tenants take out at least a inboedelverzekering (household contents insurance) for coverage of their personal possessions.
Either if you are renting or own a house, you could consider to take out the following insurances:
- Aansprakelijkheidsverzekering (liability/third party insurance): coverage of the damages that you, family members or pets cause by accident (i.e. damage to the apartment you are renting or to the neighbours)
- Rechtsbijstandverzekering (legal aid insurance): to cover for the legal costs that may arise from a possible dispute (i.e. disputes with the landlord, the neighbours or the municipality)
Your bank or financial advisor can help you. If you need further information you can also contact the Dutch association of insurance companies (Het Verbond van Verzekeraars) on 070 333 8500 or via the online form available at Verzekeraars.nl (website available in Dutch and English).
How do I get a loan for buying an apartment or a house?
Buying residential properties, e.g. an apartment or a house in the Netherlands, can be expensive. Therefore, unless you have a large amount of savings, you will probably need to take out a loan or mortgage with a lender to enable you to purchase your property. Even if you are only temporarily living in the Netherlands, it may be practical to purchase a property as your home during your stay. You will then have the option to either sell or rent out the property when you leave. If you want to rent your property out, you need permission of your bank. The type of hypotheken (mortgages) that you will be entitled to access will depend on your income level. The banks offer a wide range of mortgages but these are the elements that you should consider:
- the amount you borrow (the capital)
- the amount of interest you pay on the loan
- the duration or ‘term’ of the mortgage
By considering these three factors, you need to decide the most appropriate method for you to repay the loan. All the major Dutch banks provide mortgage lending facilities for individuals wishing to purchase a residential property.
Are there restrictions on how much I can borrow for my mortgage?
The total amount that you will be allowed to borrow will be determined by your bank or mortgage provider. This will depend upon a combination of how much you can afford to repay each month and the duration (term) for repayment. A longer repayment term will typically reduce your monthly payments, but will ultimately cost you more in the total interest paid on your loan.
Due to recent stricter mortgage guidelines published by the government and the Financial Markets Authority, the Dutch banks and other mortgage lenders are now required to operate within a new code of conduct. This provides standards on how much you can borrow based on your income. This code ensures that the affordability of your mortgage is guaranteed. Through these measures, the number of people in the Netherlands with mortgage payment problems is one of the lowest in Europe.
What are the types of mortgages available in the Netherlands?
From 2018, you can only take out a mortgage that is a maximum of 100% of the value of your house – including 2% overdrachtsbelasting (property transfer tax). This is referred to as ‘Loan to Value’ (LTV).
At first glance, the variety of mortgages on offer from the banks may seem bewildering. However, most of these mortgages come in one of two general categories: capital repayment and interest payment; and only interest-only repayment .
Capital repayment and interest payment
Mortgages which are based upon repayment of both the capital (value of the loan) and interest are tailored by the banks to provide various repayment profiles. In essence, they all expect you to pay both the interest on the original loan and the value of the loan itself within a given time period (term). A typical mortgage term can be up to 30 years, but will depend on your age and circumstances.
One popular type of capital and interest repayment mortgage fixes the amount that you repay each month on your capital loan over the term of the mortgage and is termed a lineaire hypotheek (linear mortgage). Hence, in the beginning, the amount that you pay each month will be high, as you will be paying off a fixed amount of your capital and a relatively high amount of interest (relating to the amount of capital owing). However, the monthly payments will decrease over time as the capital of the loan is paid off and the corresponding interest reduces. The benefit of this type of mortgage is that it can be repaid relatively quickly. However, as the size of the interest repayment reduces with time, you will find that you will not be able to claim as much tax benefit (as the payment of the capital is not tax deductible).
An alternative type of capital and interest repayment mortgage is an annuïteitenhypotheek (annuity mortgage). With this mortgage, the total amount that you pay each month is fixed over the repayment term. The benefit of this type of mortgage is that the repayment remains the same each month and thus makes it easier for you to manage your monthly expenditures. In the beginning, most of the monthly repayment will be just the interest on the loan, whilst later in the mortgage term you will start to pay off a greater proportion of the capital. Tax is only deductible on the interest of the mortgage. Hence, you will find that the proportion of your monthly repayment – on which you can claim a tax relief – will reduce during the given time period.
Remark: currently annuity mortgage and linear mortgage are the only kinds of mortgages that are eligible for hypotheekrenteaftrek (interest tax deduction), whereby the loan is repaid within 30 years.
With an interest-only repayment mortgage, you only pay back the interest on the value of your mortgage each month. The benefit of this mortgage is that the payments you make each month will be lower and thus more affordable. However, as you are not paying off any of the capital (value of the loan), you are not in a position to own your house; that is, unless you are confident that you will have sufficient funds to pay off the original loan as a lump sum at the end of the mortgage term.
It should be noted this kind of mortgage is no longer deductible from your income for tax purposes. Banks are no longer eager to offer this type of mortgage anymore. However, you can take over your old mortgages to your new house and continue having an interest-only or bank savings/investment mortgages or a combination and keep the eligibility of the interest deduction.
There are other types of mortgages based upon payment into an investment fund. The idea is that you only pay off the interest on the loan and at the same time contribute into an investment fund. At the end of your investment term, you should have acquired a sufficiently high return on your investment to (hopefully) be able to pay off the capital of your mortgage.
Other mortgages link repayment of the interest on the loan to paying for an insurance product, such as life insurance, or paying into a savings policy. The idea is essentially the same as above, in that you acquire sufficient funds over the term of the mortgage to pay off the original loan.
Remark: These products are not available anymore within the mortgage advice for starters. Existing mortgages containing these kinds of products may be continued.
How can I decide which mortgage is best for me?
If you are unsure of which mortgage is best suited for your needs, it is suggested that you seek advice from one of the following:
- a bank or mortgage lender
- an independent specialised hypotheek adviseur (mortgage broker)
- a professional financial advisor
In helping you to determine which mortgage is most appropriate for your circumstances, you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- How much do I want to borrow?
- How much can I afford to pay each month?
- How long do I want to take to pay off the mortgage? (This will be dependent upon a variety of factors such as your age, how long you intend to live in the Netherlands and the security over your future employment)?
- When, how much and how do I want to redeem my mortgage?
- Which risks do I want to be insured against?
- What type of mortgage do I want?
- How important are the overall interest costs, risks, flexibility and tax benefits to me?
How is the interest on my mortgage calculated?
The amount of interest you pay on your mortgage is based upon the interest rate agreed with your bank or mortgage lender which is applied to the value of the loan. Most Dutch mortgages are offered for up to a term of 30 years. Within the term, the bank will normally allow you to choose how long you wish to fix the rate of interest on your mortgage. This can typically be anywhere from one to 20 years. Hence, if you think the current interest rate will be reduced in the future, you may elect to fix the rate for only a few years. Conversely, if you think the interest rate will go up in the future, you may wish to fix the rate for a longer period. It should be noted that banks will offer a spread of rates depending on the duration that the rate is fixed. The interest rate quoted will typically rise with the increasing length of time that it is fixed; this is to cover the lender’s risk if the benchmark interest rate (set by the European Central Bank) rises in the future.
At the end of the fixed rate period, you are entitled to agree to a new fixed rate with your lender.
What type of information is required when getting a mortgage?
The requirements for getting a mortgage will depend on the bank or mortgage provider you choose. Generally, people originating from an EU member state country and who have a permanent employment contract do not experience any difficulties in getting a mortgage.
The bank or mortgage provider will want to know about the property that you wish to purchase. They may ask for you to pay for an independent inspection report on the property before they make any decision on whether to grant you a mortgage.
From January 1, 2017, homebuyers aged between 18 and 40 can receive the schenkingsvrijstelling (parental gift tax exemption). This is a gift of up to 100.000 euros and it is tax-free. It can be received from their parents or others as a contribution towards buying, renovating or paying the mortgage on a property.
For people from outside the EU, the bank or mortgage provider may want to consider the following aspects:
- The kind of residence permit you have
- The level of security afforded by your employment contract and what type of job you have
- Who is your employer? Generally, it is easier to get a mortgage if you work for a well-known, larger company than for a small company
- How much you currently earn after tax and pension deductions (take-home pay)
- What other significant expenses you currently have, e.g. paying for a car, any bank loans etc. and your general financial situation
- The nationality of your partner (is he/she Dutch or not?)
When do I start to repay my mortgage?
You usually begin repaying your mortgage within a month of completing the purchase of your home. The bank will normally collect your monthly mortgage payments by direct debit.
What happens if I find that I can no longer afford to pay my mortgage?
It should be remembered that your house is considered by the mortgage lender as security against the loan. Therefore, effectively you do not own your house until the mortgage is paid off in full. Should you default on your monthly payments (due to personal circumstances, e.g. getting into debt, becoming unemployed or divorced), the lender has the right to repossess and sell your house to pay off the remaining debt. However, this is very much a last resort for the lender.
The banks will always explore possibilities with you to address your current difficulties, before taking the more drastic action of repossessing and selling your property. If a bank does decide to sell your house and the sale value is less than the remaining mortgage value, you will still be expected to pay off the difference (with interest).
The National Mortgage Guarantee (Nationale Hypotheek Garantie –NHG) is provided by the Homeownership Guarantee Fund (Waarborgfonds Eigen Woningen – WEW). The main aim of the fund is to promote the responsible purchasing of private property. Hence, if you take out a mortgage to buy a house, you may be eligible for the NHG coverage. The NHG is only applicable for mortgages up to a certain limit. A summary in English can be found at www.nhg.nl/english-summary/Information-for-consumers/What-is-nhg. You may have to check the Dutch version in order to find the current maximum value.
If you are forced to sell your property by your mortgage lender and the value of the sale is less than the original mortgage loan, then the NHG may settle your outstanding debt with your mortgage provider.
Can I claim mortgage tax deductions on my mortgage?
The interest that you pay on your mortgage might be hypotheekrenteaftrek (tax deductible) from your earnings. If you are on a Dutch payroll and are considered a resident taxpayer, meaning you pay taxes in The Netherlands, you are entitled to the same benefits that Dutch citizens have. The mortgage relief or tax deductible has always been a contentious issue in Dutch politics and this tax benefit may become more limited in the future.
For your personal tax situation, it is advisable to look at the Belastingdienst (Tax Authorities) website (in Dutch only) or contact them on the English speaking telephone help line by calling 055 538 5385.
What are the types of housing in the Netherlands?
There are five main types of dwellings in the Netherlands:
- Vrijstaand (detached)
- Twee onder een kap (semi-detached)
- Rijtjeshuis (terraced /town house)
- Appartement (apartment)
- Woonboot ( houseboat)
The most common type of dwelling is the rijtjeshuis. This is a family home, two or three stories high, with a front and back garden, adjoined by two, three or more identical homes.
A standard Dutch house has two rooms in addition to the kitchen, living room, toilet and bathroom. Most Dutch people live in urban areas, yet the limitation of space is putting pressure on rural areas too. Many city dwellers would love to live amidst the water and the greenery of the countryside. Since space is limited in the Netherlands, many people live in low- or high-rise flats.
What are the rules for a landlord or rental agent to follow when renting out property?
Landlords and rental agents should follow certain rules and take care of the tenant’s rights.
The most important rules are:
- Landlords and rental agents have a clear procedure as to how the allocation of tenants works and the grounds on which someone is accepted or rejected as a tenant. Any kind of intimidation or physical threatening is forbidden, e.g. it is not allowed to threaten non-repayment of the deposit.
- The deposit is a maximum of twice the monthly rent and must be paid back within two weeks after the rental agreement has ended.
- The rental agreement must be put in writing.
- The landlord or rental agent must inform the tenant in writing about their rights and obligations.
- Any service fees should be reasonable and permitted by law.
- If required by the municipality, the landlord must have a licence to rent out a property
Municipalities have the authority to supervise this and take measures if anyone doesn’t follow the rules.
More detailed information about this new law can be found on the website of the government (Dutch only).
My landlord doesn’t maintain the house properly. What can I do?
The landlord is responsible for major repairs and maintenance of the rented accommodation. The tenant is responsible for minor, not expensive repairs.You can find an overview of repairs and who is responsible for them on the website of the government. (Dutch only) If you have a complaint about the maintenance of the house, you have to contact your landlord. It is suggested to do this in writing. If you and your landlord can’t agree about the maintenance, you can go to court or ask the rental committee (huurcommissie) to judge the situation. You can only go to the huurcommissie if your house qualifies as social housing (rent up to a maximum, determined by the government). On the website of the government you can find out if your house qualifies as social housing.
If your house qualifies as “free sector” (vrije sector) you can only go to court. It is suggested to ask help from a lawyer as the rules as quite complicated. The Juridisch loket can advise you what to do.