Rental contracts in the Netherlands are pro-tenant. However, expats should be extremely careful when signing since rental contracts define both parties’ rights and obligations.
Rental contracts in the Netherlands
In general, rental contracts in the Netherlands should include:
- Both your and your landlord’s name and signature.
- An agreed monthly rent and method of payment.
- Rental security deposit information, if applicable.
- An address and description of the place.
- Starting and ending dates.
- Specific house rules (pets, third party housing, smoking policy etc.).
- Extra costs and/or utilities (energy (gas and electricity), water, Internet, phone line etc.).
- Landlord’s duties (maintenance, repairs etc.).
- A notice period for terminating the contract.
- An inventory list (if the apartment is furnished).
- The date on which the rent will be increased each year.
Please, note that an oral agreement / contract is legally valid but not widely used (mainly for security reasons). Since an oral agreement is more difficult to prove, you should take a witness with you if you want to make an oral agreement.
Fixed-period or indefinite rental contracts
There are two types of tenancy agreements; a fixed-period or an indefinite period agreement.
Fixed-period rental contract
Most rental contracts offered as a fixed-period rental contract are, by law, considered indefinite rental contracts with a minimum fixed term. This means that you cannot terminate your contract until the minimum fixed term has lapsed. Often this minimum fixed term will be six to twelve months. Sometimes an escape clause is added in the form of a “diplomats’ clause”: in case you can prove that your employer is relocating you, you may terminate early.
Temporary contracts are allowed for up to two years (independent residences, self-contained) or five years (dependent residences). They cannot contain a minimum fixed term. This means that the tenant must always be allowed to give notice (no longer than one month). These contracts terminate by force of law, although the landlord must remind the tenant of termination at least one month and no longer than three months before the end date. In case the landlord forgets to remind the tenant or in case the contract is extended, it becomes an indefinite term contract by force of law.
Indefinite rental contract
Unlike a fixed-period contract, an indefinite rental contract has no end date. However, an indefinite rental contract can be terminated by the landlord if there are legal grounds for termination.
Rental contracts in the private sector
Tenancy agreements in the private sector can be liberalised. If your rent is liberalised, your landlord can basically ask whichever price he wants. If your rent is controlled, the price is regulated by law. It is important that you check the rent value here.
If it is under the rent-controlled liberalisation threshold, you can have your rent lowered to the rent-controlled level from when you first started to pay rent. You need to arrange this within six months of the beginning of the rent. If you are too late, your rent cannot be lowered anymore and stays “liberalised”.
Housing rights & Tenant's duties
The Dutch civil code states that: "Rent is the agreement, in which one party, the landlord, obligates himself to another party, the tenant, to let him use an object or part of an object, for which the tenant obligates himself to a compensation."
- Ensure availability of the property within the agreed rental period.
- Cover any necessary major repairs and maintenance (within a reasonable period).
- Solve any problems affecting the tenant (plumbing, electricity, Internet etc.).
- Rental contracts can never be terminated by a landlord unless the tenant or a court agrees.
- Pay the agreed monthly rent on time.
- Follow the agreed house rules.
- Pay for minor repairs that are inexpensive.
- Allow the landlord to enter the accommodation to make repairs (within a reasonable period).
- Tenants must inform the landlord (preferably in writing) of all defaults forthwith, regardless whether they wish the defaults to be remedied or not.
All-in rental prices
If your rental contract contains a rental price that includes more than the mere use of the real estate, it will be considered an all-in price. In this case, you may ask for a specification and separation of the costs. If a landlord charges you all-in rent, they may be subject to a fine by law. This means you may be able to save a lot of money if you consult with a legal expert.
Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie)
The Rent Tribunal handles disputes about rent levels, maintenance or service charges. The Rent Tribunal can only handle your dispute if your house falls under social housing. If your house is a so-called free sector house, you will need to handle your dispute in court. However, it is possible for free sector tenants to make use of the Rent Tribunal’s rent assessment service.
What to do when you have a disagreement with your landlord
If something in your house needs to be fixed, but your landlord is not being responsive or refuses to fix the problem, then there are certain steps that you can take:
- First of all, you must submit your complaint to your landlord.
- If that does not resolve the problem, you can submit your complaint to the landlord’s complaints committee. Most housing corporations have one.
- If this does not resolve things, you may be able to bring your complaint before the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie).
- If all else fails, you can always contact a lawyer.