The Dutch Rental Law in Short
The Dutch rental law is very organized, systematized and regulated by the Dutch authorities. However, many times the foreign students become a victim of landlords who rely on the fact that newcomers are not informed about it. Thus, GroningenLife! contacted the rental lawyer, Denise Zonnebeld from Frently who gave us a few tips for the international students in Groningen.
The rental contracts
Each student should have a rental contract for the room they rent. This document will be needed for the university enrollment, opening a bank account and registration at the municipality of Groningen. A basic rental contract defines how much the price is per month for a room (basic rental price) and how much is the price of the services provided by the landlord (service costs). The most often breach of contracts according to Denise Zonnebeld are overpriced basic rent; not providing a specification of the consumed service costs which is supposed to be provided annually; a landlord who terminates a rental contract without a valid legal termination ground; the number of people who are allowed to live in the house; and a lack of maintenance.
In general, rental contracts in the Netherlands should include:
• Both your and your landlord’s name, signature and contact details.
• An agreed monthly rent and method of payment.
• The address of the place.
• When the contract starts and if it’s a temporary contract, the ending date.
• Extra costs and/or utilities (energy (gas and electricity), water, Internet, phone line, etc.)
• A notice period for terminating the contract of one month.
• An inventory list (if the apartment is furnished).
Note that the price of the basic rent is defined by square meters and (shared) facilities. By law, the location is not supposed to influence your rental price. The price is calculated by a legal point system based on the rental prices law and if requested, checked by an independent government body called ‘de Huurcommissie’ (The Rent Tribunal). After contacting the Rental Tribunal, they will come to your house to evaluate your room or apartment and define its maximum price.
What you need to know about the landlords…
• A landlord is not allowed to terminate a contract just because he wants to do so. There are only four valid legal reasons to terminate a rental contract. These reasons are all very, very rare. Imagine the situation in which the landlord needs the house urgently for himself because a family member is sick, and it happens that the house is close to the hospital. Or if a tenant has not paid its rent during a period of three months or the tenant is bringing a threat (health, safety, etc.) to the house.
• Another thing that a landlord is doing often is to increase the price which is considered a proposal and not an abiding decision. Thus, the student can reject the proposal of rent increase! The rent increase is never allowed if it exceeds the legally established maximum rental price decided by the Dutch rental prices law. Also, the rent increase percentage is determined by the government each year.
• The landlord cannot enter your room without your permission, unless in case of an emergency. If the student wishes, (s)he is allowed to change the lock of the house if the student is afraid of his privacy being disrupted. Just make sure to put back the old lock when terminating the rental contract.
• If your landlord (or anyone else) enters your house without your permission, and talking doesn’t help, you can call the police at 112 since no one is allowed to trespass. It is advisable to collect evidence of your landlord entering the house by video recording and by making pictures. Make sure to ask him at least two times loud and clear to leave your rented property.
• A landlord cannot terminate a rental contract based on the fact that he wants to sell the house. This means you don't have to move out if the landlord sells the house. The new owner will buy the house including the rental contract(s) and tenants. If the (old or new) landlord wants to terminate your rental contract, he should ask for permission from a judge. A judge will only grant permission if your landlord has a legal reason. Selling the house is not a legal termination ground. Thus, you can ask for a compensation.
• The price of the room does not increase with the number of people living in it. However, it is possible that you consume more service costs if you live with more people in an accommodation. This will be shown by the annual service cost specification document which the landlord is supposed to present to you at the end of the year. An amount of 75 euros per month is a reasonable service costs amount for a room and an amount of 100 euros is a reasonable amount for apartments.
• Subletting your room (renting it out to someone else) is only allowed when you have permission from your landlord. Subletting part of an apartment is allowed, unless your contract states you are not allowed to do so.
What you need to know about the agencies…
According to the Dutch law, the agency fee has to be charged to the landlord, not to the tenant. Therefore, the tenant can reclaim the agency fee until 5 years after having paid the fee.
The housing subsidy provided by the Dutch government is called huurtoeslag and it is meant to help with the payment of the rent for people who have a low income. You can apply for huurtoeslag if you rent an apartment and comply with the other requirements of the Belastingdienst (Tax Department), which you can read here.
Deregistration from the house
If you terminate your rental contract or if it automatically ends, deregistration from the municipality is mandatory. The deregistration can be done online through DigID; the website of the City Hall (called E-loket) or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Note that not complying with the deregistration rules in time will result in fines.
For more information about housing check our page.
For more information how Frently can help you check our interview with Frently.