HOUSE HUNTING IN THE NETHERLANDS (updated 2023)
This article was compiled and written by DAI alumnus Eric.
HOUSE HUNTING IN THE NETHERLANDS
The housing market in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, other locations in The Netherlands to a lesser extent, is very difficult at the moment for everybody. Rentals available to foreigners are only a small and usually expensive selection. Because of strict zoning regulations, social housing regulations and other issues, you will likely see lots of rental properties on Facebook and other platforms that are rented ‘illegally’, meaning you won’t be able to register. This poses all sorts of difficulties as it’s mandatory for people to be registered in the Netherlands for visa, bank accounts, jobs, insurance and other purposes. It’s common for people to jump from sublet to sublet for years on end.
The housing situation in The Netherlands changes year by year, so be aware that tips and advice from people arrived before may be outdated now. For instance, housing agencies and agents (makelaars) that didn't have problems with foreign guarantors now (2023) do. Many of them are asking that your guarantor is European, or specifically Dutch.
After saying this: There is hope! You are not alone, and there are good people out there that are looking for a roommate or sublet their apartment and are willing to help... you just need to keep trying all options, using all connections: It is common to find a house by word of mouth or through your personal network, so make sure to ask everyone you know that you’re on the look-out and don’t give up! Also although The Netherlands seems highly administrative, there are loopholes and benefits to be found if you take a good look.
Where do DAI students generally live IF they live in the Netherlands?
- The Hague
- Random small towns
> Amsterdam is the most expensive city in the Netherlands. It is very hard to find a place where you can register for under €500/month.
> Some areas in Rotterdam (mostly in the south) require you to apply for a housing permit known as a HVV. This is to prove you earn enough or that you are a student. Students are supposedly exempt, although those who don’t receive the student grants may be asked to prove they can support themselves. If you’re not a student you’re supposed to earn a minimum monthly amount. They’re not allowed to tell you over the phone what this amount is, but rumour has it that it’s approx. between 1000 and 1500 a month. Details here - https://www.rotterdam.nl/english/%20housing-permit/
Where do DAI students generally live if they do not live in the Netherlands?
- Elsewhere in Europe and the world: Brussels, Berlin, Athens, Prague, Lisbon or otherwise. Check our Alumni Embassy.
Types of housing in the Netherlands
- Self-contained studio or apartment. This is the only option that allows you to apply for the Housing Allowance. More on this below.
- Studio with shared kitchen and other public facilities.
Sharing an apartment.
Platforms to find a place
An emerging rental company, offers self-contained studios and apartments in Amsterdam, Delft, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and so on. Available apartments are posted every Tuesday. There is a subscription fee of €20.
You can find a private room with your own bathroom and sharing kitchen here for short or long-term stay. They provide a number of shared facilities, such as a laundry room, kitchen, restaurant, sport facilities and leisure and study areas.
Rental agencies and their newsletters
You can also sign up with specific rental agencies, as they send out the “best” apartments with their newsletter and what’s left is put on their website. At first it might look as an expensive option but this is not always the case. Some students have found it was actually cheaper, but it depends on the agency.
For The Hague, Wolter Housing is a good one.
Online rental platforms
The largest rental website for student housing in the Netherlands. If you want to consult the landlord, or see properties when they’re first announced, you need to pay a €34/month membership fee, or 26 euro for 15 days. If you do not want to pay, you could also search the landlord on Facebook.
Contacting the landlord is free, but you have to pay a service fee to the website after successfully renting a house. The fee varies according to the rent, usually from € 90 to 200.
The largest rental website in the Netherlands. It gathers a number of rental agencies from various cities. Depending on the rent and the agency, you have to pay a lump sum of 200+ to 300+ for intermediary costs.
Searching for rental groups on Facebook
This is obviously for free. You can search for keywords, such as the city name of your destination + housing / living / rent. Try to join more Facebook’s renting groups as possible, some of them are specific for a determined group of people or you can find plenty of renting posts in groups like the academies closed groups or expats’ ones. Ask to join these groups, and consider that you need to reply to a huge amount of posts and you need to be very fast. Renting posts will be for a while your first thought in the morning, your last before sleeping, but often it is worth it!
Please note: We recommend you not to pay for the rent or a deposit before you arrive in The Netherlands by Online rental platform or Facebook.
Beware! There are lots of scams around!
If looking in Amsterdam, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie closed Facebook group often has rooms for rent posted and other useful things. Also KABK (The Hague) and HKU (Utrecht) or Willem de Kooning (Rotterdam).
If looking in Amsterdam - There’s a legend of a woman, Mari Matre Larsen <firstname.lastname@example.org> , who every month sends out an email listing people searching and renting out places within the arts/dance community. These are often sublets but it’s worth writing to her to ask to join the group and with a personalised description about yourself for her to forward to the group.
Anti-kraak Housing (“Anti-squatting”)
Anti-kraak was established in the Netherlands when squatting became illegal. It is intended to place people in buildings that would otherwise be empty, for a very low rent. Under Anti-kraak your tenant rights are very limited, but if you are flexible enough it is worth giving it a try.
There are also some different ‘Anti-kraak’ rental agencies in all cities, although for places like Amsterdam and Rotterdam it is tricky to get on the list due to high demand. Ad Hoc is one such agency - For more info: http://leegstandzonderzorgen.nl/carefree-vacant-property/
Adhoc - cheap temporary and anti-kraak housing - https://www.adhocbeheer.nl/woonruimte/antikraak-wonen
Other Anti-kraak agencies
Bewaakt & Bewoond (“Guarded and Inhabited”) - Their headquarters are in The Hague next to the Central Station, but they offer housing in the whole area of Rotterdam, The Hague and northwards (Leiden, Amsterdam area). https://www.bewaaktenbewoond.nl.
There’s an organisation called Camelot, better to stay away from them.
About renting Once you find a place
You can calculate the maximum rent that the landlord can ask for the rental social home or room, through Rental Price Check, or through the Gemeente of your city searching for huurprijs calculator (for Rotterdam check: huurprijscalculator.rotterdam.nl)
You might be eligible for huurtoeslag or rent allowance! Limited to low income earners. From January 1, 2020, there are no more income limits; it depends on your rent, your age, and the composition of your household.
Check the conditions here:https://www.belastingdienst.nl/wps/wcm/connect/bldcontentnl/belastingdienst/prive/toeslagen/huurtoeslag/
Tips and Suggestions from ongoing and retired DAIers
You can also find a broker, but they take a fee equal to one month of rent. This is one guy in Amsterdam:
His name is Nabil , N: +31614231041
Solutions for a temporary stay
- The Dream (note: since it can only accommodate a max of three students it is usually fully occupied. Check with Krista Jantowski for availability)
- Youth hostels.
- Ask a fellow DAIer for a temporary stay.
In case you have trouble with your landlord, neighbours or other things related to housing, you can consult online platforms for legal advice.
- Juridisch Loket: Legal advice free of charge, for any legal issues needed. No need to make an appointment, but come in early to be sure of a spot that very same day.
Landlords/Agencies and foreign renters — For a lot of rental agencies, it’s easier to get in foreigners, as the agency is aware you’ll be leaving soon and might not know about all your rights. Not so much a tip, but more of something to realise and be wary about. I know some people have been given “year contracts”, but the Netherlands doesn’t know something as “1/3/5 year contracts”, which are common in for instance Belgium. You are absolutely in your rights to rent something for a few months and then leave the house for something else—keeping the contractual leave in mind (mostly 1 month, but sometimes it’s 2 months). And though it might say your contract is for 1 year, this is not legally binding as (again) The Netherlands does not know of such a system. They cannot kick you out legally, but they might claim they have the right to. I guess the Juridisch Loket can be a good option in such cases to be more aware of your rights and be more confident. — Eric
Landlord has no access to your apartment if a contract is signed — Another thing: I was born in The Netherlands and have had experiences where house owners entered my apartment — mostly to repair, or whatever. But they don’t have the right to! They should always make an appointment and can never access your apartment without your agreement. This is a renter’s right. (This changes though with the “anti-kraak” apartments, where you are not a renter, but a “user”. In that case, they can enter whenever they need to.) I always change the lock, just to be sure (though that might not be applicable to a larger apartment where the front door immediately gives access to the apartment itself). A friend of mine had their landlord access their house and made it to a court case—which ended up with the landlord paying a huge fine. Just a thing to be aware of. — Eric
Money scam (“key money”) — I have once experienced a person who had me sign the contract and then asked for “sleutelgeld” (litt. “key money”), meaning I had to pay him cash to get the key. This is a total scam!! Never ever give money to receive the key: This is just a scam! — Eric
Deposit and rights — When leaving a house, you should get back your deposit money, unless they need to fix things that you’ve broken. So, be sure to have the landlord or person giving you the rental contract to note down things that are already broken! Just so they cannot charge you for the costs of fixing when things were already broken. Also, if they decide to fix things from your deposit, you are allowed to ask for the bill to see the amount of money it costs to fix things. If not the full deposit, they should give you the remaining amount. — Eric
Beware of specific rental agencies (e.g. Duinzigt for The Hague) — As for The Hague, there is one rental agency that cannot be trusted: Duinzigt. Please be weary of them when looking for housing. I’ve had bad experiences personally and know several stories of friends of scamming and deliberately tricking us into things where Duinzigt made more money and we lost lots... — Eric
Including or excluding gas/water/electricity? - When house hunting keep an eye out for whether the rental amount includes or excludes council tax and/or expenses. It is common for gas/water/electricity to be a set fixed amount based on previous years. Also expect to receive annual tax bills from the council for things like water in addition to your quarterly bills. (eg- I pay 50 euro + 20 euro council tax a month in addition to my rent). Z
Taxes (garbage and water/sewer) — I want to add, picking up trash or emptying the large bins in front of your houses, the municipality can also charge a yearly fee to this (around 200 EUR per year in The Hague). The same counts for a tax on water purification (at least that’s how it’s literally translated...) by municipalities of The Hague and Delft (but I guess this counts for all areas), making up another 300 EUR per year. This is per household, so if you rent an independent apartment with your own number, this is what you can get charged. Otherwise it will be counted on the whole house or, in most cases when just renting out rooms, the landlord needs to pay these.