Dutch rental market: how does it work?
The first thing to mention is that there is a general shortage of residential rental properties in the Netherlands. This especially applies to properties in the Randstad region. That region is basically the triangle which can be drawn between Amsterdam – The Hague – Utrecht.
Therefore the government has applied what is known as the ‘Points System’ to regulate the rental property market in the Netherlands.
In some areas such as Amsterdam this has always been strictly regulated, and in other areas it is becoming stricter as time goes by.
The Points System rules basically state that properties which do not meet the criteria to achieve 146 points or more are not open to ‘the free market’. If that is indeed the case then the property falls under ‘Social Housing’.
At first glance this sector might seem like an attractive one as for example there is a maximum allowable monthly rental price which can be charged to the tenant by the owner. But there are hard criteria and challenges for potential tenants such as:
their salary falling below a maximum income (currently around € 35,000).
- Waiting list
candidates should have been on an official waiting list to acquire the right to rent in that neighborhood of the city. This waiting list is 5 years in most cities but in Amsterdam itself 10 years is more realistically. This sounds extraordinary but has long been very much a reality for Dutch people looking to find their own rental home.
- Competing with locals
If indeed you do qualify and become eligible, at the end of the day you will be competing with locals which are preferred by Dutch home owners as they commit to longer contracts and will not include the ‘Diplomatic Clause’ for you as expat tenant.
Ramifications of Renting a property which does not meet the ‘Free Market’ Classification
For a homeseeker coming in from abroad at first glance it may of course seem very attractive to be able to obtain a low rent property for your time in the Netherlands. The homeseeker may even have an agent but that agent may not have the requisite knowledge to guide the homeseeker through the pitfalls in the Netherlands.
However, the dangers very much outweigh the initial attraction and this is why Renthouse International does not do business in the ‘Social housing’ segment.
The local government (Gemeente) in most cities has a team of officials who walk door to door, asking residents to see their rental contract and then asking the resident is he or she pays too much rent. If the landlord is seen to have rented not conforming to the rules the local government can invalidate the rental agreement and force the occupant out of the property.
A number of colleague agents in Amsterdam have had the experience in the past that a large company in the Netherlands following a Homesearch has allowed its expat employees to rent a property which does not fall under the Free Market classification and for which too much monthly rent is charged. One or more of these occupants has then applied to the government stating that they pay too much rent and that the rent should be reduced. The government then looked at forcing a rent reduction but then sees that the occupant never stood in the waiting list process in the first place. At which point the government invalidated the tenancy agreement and forces the occupant to leave the property.
Subsequently because of point 2 above most agents and owners refused to have any dealings with that large company or its employees; making it almost impossible for the company to find appropriate rental accommodation for its employees in the Netherlands.
Condition of the Property
There are three general conditions in which a property is rented.
- Fully furnished (‘Gemeubileerd’):
this means in principle that you should be able to bring only your toothbrush and clothing. All other furniture will be present in the property.
- Partly furnished (‘Gestoffeerd’):
this means that the property is equipped with a floor covering, curtains or other window covering, and that there are laundry facilities such as washer and dryer.
- Empty (‘Kaal’):
this literally means the property comes with a concrete floor and no curtains or laundry facilities installed. You do always get a fitted bathroom and kitchen. This type of property can be interesting if you are planning to stay a number of years and are willing to invest in carpet or laminate and some curtains. The prices of such properties are commonly lower and they tend to be found in modern complexes.
Most landlords ask for in principle 2 month’s rent as a deposit, which is payable along with the first month’s rent before the keys will be handed over. Depending on the size and condition of the property though, this may be able to be negotiated down by the agent who represents you.
Dutch law prescribes one months’ notice. Irregardless of which notice period an offer and/or a rental agreement might have, Dutch law.