When renting a house in the Netherlands, whether it’s a free-sector or social housing property, most tenants are required to pay a one-time rental security deposit. This, in case the tenant causes substantial damage to the property. This does not refer to the regular wear and tear that happens when living in a property.
However, what could be classified as damage are significant alterations to the property. If you did not get written permission from your landlord / housing agency for said alterations, you might have to pay for the costs of returning the property to its original condition.
When do you need to pay the security deposit?
Generally, tenants pay the one-time deposit together with their first month’s rent and, if you have enlisted the help of a rental housing agency, a possible mediation fee.
How much is a rental security deposit in the Netherlands?
A landlord / housing agency is legally allowed to request a security deposit, unless the amount is unreasonably high. In the Dutch housing market, there are no rules concerning the maximum amount for a rental security deposit. For example, a deposit of up to three months of basic rent is seen as reasonable by the Dutch court.
How to get your security deposit back
When your rental contract ends or when you cancel your rental agreement because you have found a new place, and you have not damaged the property, the landlord / housing agency is required to pay back your rental security deposit. However, if you have rent arrears, the landlord / housing agency is allowed to deduct the amount you owe from the security deposit.
Please note, your landlord / housing agency is not obliged to pay any interest on the deposit and you can’t trade the deposit for your last month’s rent.
What if your landlord / housing agency is refusing to return your security deposit?
If your landlord / housing agency is refusing to return your rental security deposit, there are ways to get your deposit back.
First, check your contract to see if you have agreed upon a certain deadline. If not, it is customary for your landlord / housing agency to return your deposit after one month.
Sending a registered letter
If your landlord / housing agency still hasn’t paid you back after the agreed or customary deadline, you will need to send a registered letter (aangetekende brief) to them in which you demand your security deposit back. You can find an example of such a letter here.
Tip: Send the letter by registered mail and by regular mail. And don’t forget to keep a copy for yourself.
Getting legal help
Are they still not responding? Or are they refusing to pay back the security deposit? If so, it is a good idea to request help from a lawyer or Het Juridisch Loket. What is good to know is that when a landlord / housing agency receives a registered letter like the one mentioned above from you or a lawyer, they will often pay back your deposit, since going to court might end up costing them a lot of money.
Inspection list (opnamestaat)
To make sure you do not encounter any problems concerning your security deposit, you should make sure you and your landlord / housing agency sign a written record describing the condition the property is in when you sign the rental contract. This written record is called the opnamestaat (inspection list).
Is your property furnished? You should request an itemised inventory list if one is not provided.
There is an inspection list
When there is an inspection list, it means that when you move out, you have to leave the property in the condition as described in the list
There is no inspection list
Is there no inspection list? You will have to leave the property in the condition it was in when signing the contract. Are they claiming that you have damaged or made changes to the property without permission? They will need to be able to prove this, unless you have signed your rental contract before August 1, 2003. If you have signed your contract before this date, you will need to prove that the property was already damaged / changed when you entered into the rental agreement.
Tip: Make sure you take pictures of the property before you move in and add these to the inspection list.
Your landlord / housing agency is allowed to inspect the property before you leave. Usually, two inspections will take place: a pre-inspection and final inspection.
During pre-inspection it will be determined whether or not the property is damaged and if any repairs are necessary. If so, a report will be drawn up by the landlord / housing agency, detailing what will need to be repaired. Both parties sign this report. The pre-inspection usually takes place two weeks before your contract ends, so you will have ample time to make repairs, if necessary. You can make repairs up until the last day the rental contract is valid.
Don’t agree with the report? Don’t sign it! Instead, contact Het Juridisch Loket.
The final inspection generally takes place a few days before your contract ends. During this inspection, the landlord / housing agency will check if you have made all the repairs mentioned in the report. New repairs may only be requested if the landlord / housing agency did not notice the damages during the pre-inspection. You are liable to pay for any agreed upon damages you did not repair.