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Rental contracts & Housing rights

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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.
  • 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

A fixed-period agreement has a final date. Are you renting a self-contained house for longer than two years? You can’t end the agreement before the final date stated on the contract, unless both you and your landlord agree to it. The same rule applies when you are renting a non-self-contained house for longer than five years.

A fixed-period contract does not end automatically on the final date. The agreement must be terminated in writing, by both the tenant and the landlord.

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

When it comes to the private sector, rental contracts have been liberalised. This means your rent is not based on a points system and that there is no maximum amount of rent a landlord can charge you.

Please note, this only applies to self-contained housing. Your house is considered to be self-contained if it has its own entrance, kitchen and toilet.

Housing rights & Tenant's duties

The book of Civil Rights 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."

Landlord’s obligations

  • 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.).
  • Give valid reasons and notice to cancel the rental contract.

Tenant’s duties

  • 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).
  • Give valid reasons and notice to cancel the rental contract.

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 associations 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.

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