Housing rights for renting

The supply of residential accommodation in Amsterdam fluctuates greatly. At times there is a housing shortage and unfortunately some landlords abuse this. It is therefore important to know your rights and read a tenancy agreement carefully before signing.

Freedom of contract: All kinds of rules can be written into a tenancy agreement but it’s the law (burgerlijk wetboek) that counts, providing you are within the first six months of signing a contract. After six months the contract is binding. Wijksteunpunt Wonen is an excellent contact point for information relating to tenants and people looking for housing.

The Dutch law has many rules that protect your rights as a tenant. There are rules regarding rent control, furnishing and service costs. Housing agencies in Amsterdam must abide by the rules and can be held accountable if you are being charged too much rent. Crucially, a landlord cannot simply evict you from your home. If you do not reach agreement, only a court can terminate the lease.

When signing a rental contract

  • Deposit and contract expenses: When you rent a home, the landlord can ask you to pay a deposit. Sometimes the landlord also charges contract and administration expenses. Landlords are allowed to ask for a reasonable deposit, but the charging of contract and administration expenses can often be disputed. Usually the deposit amounts to a rent of one or two months. Three months is considered unreasonable. If you have paid too much, you can try to get some money back. In such a situation, you can ask for free legal advice: www.juridischloket.nlLearn more about unjust agency fees in Amsterdam.

  • Buying items from previous tenant (‘overnamekosten’): Many tenants make home improvements at their own expense, such as a new shower, a modern kitchen, central heating, etc. When they move, they often ask the new tenants for a payment to cover the costs. This is only permitted for movable items in the home (e.g. curtains, carpets). The money you pay for items that the previous resident leaves behind is called ‘overnamekosten’ in Dutch. The price must be reasonable. The departing tenant may not charge anything for fixed masonry and carpentry work, such as plastering, a shower, central heating and so on.

  • Key fee (sleutelgeld): It is illegal for landlords to request that a tenant pay a fee before they can move into the home. This is called the 'key fee' ('sleutelgeld'), and departing tenants also sometimes demand such a payment, either with or without permission from the landlord. This term is also used when the tenant asks for ‘overnamekosten’ (see above) without offering any goods in return. Essentially it means that you are paying a sum of money just to receive the key, while the other party does nothing in return. Charging key money is not permitted. Do not pay!

When having disputes

Rental price and points system – Each property in the Netherlands has a designated rental value. The rental value of a home is based on a national points system ('woningwaarderingsstelsel'). The number of points is determined by the quality, size, location and facilities of the home. The total number of points indicates the maximum rental price for your home. On the basis of this limit you can determine whether the rental price (e.g. after a rental increase) is reasonable in proportion to the quality of the home. All information about the points system can be found on the site of the Rijksoverheid (Dutch Government), where you can download a brochure.

The national Rent Tribunal (‘Huurcommissie’) is the independent government organisation that can rule on disputes between tenants and landlords. But if you have a dispute with the landlord over the rental price, the first step is asking for advice from the Wijksteunpunt Wonen. Please note that in the liberalised segment of the housing market (143 points or more) the Rent Tribunal has no jurisdiction – only a court (‘kantonrechter’) has.

Home maintenance – If you rent a home, both you and the landlord have obligations regarding maintenance. The tenant sees to small and day-to-day repairs; the landlord is responsible for major repairs and maintenance. For extensive information please go to the website of the Rent Tribunal or look at:

Neighbours – If your neighbours regularly make a lot of noise at night, intimidate or threaten you, or cause some other extreme form of trouble and you have already tried everything to solve the problem, there are various services you can turn to. You should always contact your landlord first. Your landlord may be able to act as a mediator between you and your neighbours. Housing associations have contacts with various services, such as Meldpunt Zorg en Overlast and Stichting Bemiddeling Amsterdam. You can also contact Meldpunten yourself to report the trouble caused by your neighbours.

House buying tips

If you want to buy a house or apartment, seek the advice of an expert. There are many more financial and legal questions to consider than if you rent accommodation. For example, a financial advisor can work out what mortgage is best for you and what it will cost you.

Furthermore, residential accommodation in the Netherlands is almost always sold unfurnished. You therefore have to provide your own furniture. In addition there are the so-called buyer’s costs (kosten koper). These are the costs you incur for things like the services of the estate agent, transfer costs, mortgage costs and transfer duty.

Help as a home owner

If you have a problem as a home owner you can fall back on your legal expenses insurance policy (rechtsbijstandsverzekering). You can also choose to join Vereniging Eigen Huis, an organisation that promotes the interests of home owners. They can give you individual assistance and advice (website in Dutch only).

Contacts

Rental Tribunal (Huurcommissie) Amsterdam area Website: Huurcommissie

Vereniging Eigen Huis Website: VerenigingEigenHuis

More information

Drop by or call Wijksteunpunten Wonen for free advice on all rental matters. There are offices in each of the Amsterdam city districts.