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.htm (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 the first week 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 must 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.
You must also pay approximately one month’s rent (plus VAT) to the real estate agent as a fee for helping you find the property. This is not refundable.
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
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: 1400. The huurcommissie only deals with issues between tenant and landlord when it is social housing (generally up to about €710 rent /month). If you have rented a house which does not qualify as social housing, you can ask the huurcommissie to perform a check if the rental price is acceptable. This should be done within six months after the start of the rental contract
- Dutch Legal Desk (Het Juridisch Loket): this is a legal desk that will help you with legal questions including those about property rentals. You may contact them via their website Juridischloket.nl (in Dutch only) or call them at 0900 8020 (€0.25/c per minute)
- De Geschillencommissie: this is an arbitration board that handles complaints you may have, for example, against a landlord. You can visit their website at Degeschillencommissie.nl (in Dutch only)
- Het Sociaal Raadsliedenwerk (SRW): the Social Work Counsel offers free advice and information on socio-legal services. You can locate the closest office to your location on their website Socialwerknederland.nl (in Dutch only) or contact them at email@example.com.
- !WOON: this is an independent not-for-profit organisation formerly known as Wijksteunpunten Wonen and merged with Amsterdams Steunpunt Wonen. It offers free advice and support on tenancy rights if you live in Amsterdam. It is funded by Amsterdam city council and their services, and other services have expanded to include support for homeowners and potential buyers. You can visit their website on www.wooninfo.nl/english.
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 (Gemeentelijke Basisadministratie Persoonsgegevens – GBA)
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
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
To check which provider is active in your area, fill in your post code at www.nlconnect.org. If you prefer it you can drop in to providers or telephone shops which can help you to choose and arrange the most suitable package for Internet, TV and landline.
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. Using your roaming phone may not be as convenient for your friends as they may pay additional fees when calling/texting you.
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) or Aaanbiedercheck.nl/en
- For a comparison of prices of different providers visit: Bellen.com (in Dutch only)
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 organic waste (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 (including cans) and clothing/textiles, medicines and batteries, small electrical appliances and bulbs can be deposited in special containers in your neighbourhood. 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.