Expats lose thousands to landlords who refuse to repay deposits

Expats lose thousands to landlords who refuse to repay deposits

Various housing organisations have revealed that expats renting property in the Netherlands are regularly cheated out of hundreds, if not thousands of euros by landlords who refuse to return rental deposits

Rogue landlords can cost expats thousands of euros

Companies that assist tenants with rental conflicts have reported to the NOS that a number of commercial landlords in the Netherlands refuse to repay tenants’ deposit, in spite of the fact that there is nothing wrong with the property when they move out. 

Gert Jan Bakker, who works for !Woon in Amsterdam, a nonprofit organisation that provides information, support, and (legal) advice for tenants, says it happens hundreds of times every year in the Dutch capital alone, and that it can cost expats thousands of euros: “Expats often have to pay two to three times the rent as a deposit,” he reports. “And an apartment in Amsterdam quickly costs 2000 per month. Then you are talking about 4000 to 6000 euros.”

While the issue is most prevalent in Amsterdam, it is becoming increasingly common in other Dutch cities. Urbannerdam, an agency that helps tenants on behalf of municipalities in Rotterdam, Utrecht, and Leiden, says they are seeing an increase in the number of cases of tenants being unjustly refused their deposit. 

Landlords have to prove supposed damage was caused by tenants

The experts say the issue is growing as temporary rental contracts become more and more common, both among expats and locals, giving landlords more opportunity to withhold deposits, with some apparently even counting deposits as an additional source of income. 

“Expats often go back to their country of origin or another international location. Such a landlord knows this and then thinks: why should I repay the deposit?” Bakker explains. In reality, landlords have to be able to prove that damage has been caused by the tenant in order to retain (part of) the deposit. 

Tenants are advised to carry out an inspection with the landlord when they move into and out of a property, and to record the condition of the property through photos. Anyone who falls victim to these rogue landlords can choose to contact an agency or organisation to assist them or handle the case on their behalf. They could also take legal action, which experts say should be a viable option for any deposit of over 500 euros.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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SonuDavidsonC.B2 12:54 | 24 June 2021

It's just not only with the inspection. The last agency from whom I rented has mandated that I must pay €25 for water no matter If I use it or not. At the end of the contract, they didn't return my full deposit sending me an electricity bill that took almost all of my deposit. When I asked for the monthly invoices or usages. They just said that it is what it is.

PepePerez2 15:20 | 24 June 2021

No, dear, it's not rogue landlords only, it is agencies too, as the osomeone said too. I am from a much less corrputed country in the EU, but I have also lived in many different countries, such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Belgium, UK, for years on each, and I can assure that NL is the most corrupted shithole of them all, jsut unvelievable. Money is important everywhere, but in NL, they might sacrifice a long frienship if they can steal you 50 euro. On the topic: I DO NOT KNOW any single expat who has got their deposit back after renting a house, either from private or agency, either when moving to another country or another neighbourhood. You go to justice and what happens with the lawyer? Guess: they try to steal your money too. NL may be a very rich country (in money) but trust me, it's the most soul less place in the EU, at the end they are the poorest, becasue they lack human features.