Renting in the Netherlands: the ultimate guide

If you’ve done any research on renting in Holland (and since you’re here, we assume so!) then you’ve probably encountered some kooky things about renting in the Netherlands or been daunted by the housing shortage

As an international, there certainly are a lot of things to keep track of when finding a place to live out your Dutch dream — here’s how you can navigate the rental market in the Netherlands like a pro!


🏙 Types of rental properties in the Netherlands

You may be dreaming of a canal house, a modern apartment, or a typical Dutch terraced house — or maybe a houseboat is more your style. 😉 The Netherlands is packed with different housing options to suit you (and your budget!). We’ll start from the beginning: 

Renting a room in the Netherlands: ‘huisgenoten’ and ‘gezelligheid’

This is a popular option with students and new graduates, but also those who just want to keep their monthly rent to a minimum and love to socialise. 

In the Netherlands, renting a room typically means you’ll have your own bedroom (the size will vary between and within houses) and share a kitchen and bathroom. Sometimes, there’ll also be a gezellig living or common room where you can hang out with your flatmates (huisgenoten).

👍 Perfect for: Singles, students
💰 Expect to pay: €300-600

Tip: If there’s a sink in your bedroom, don’t be weirded out! Having a sink in the room is quite common in the Netherlands (and you’ll wonder how you ever survived without it!).

people-hanging-out-in-shared-kitchen-in-a-dutch-rental-flat
Sharing a space can be an easy way to get to know new people! Image: monkeybusiness/Depositphotos

Renting a studio in the Netherlands: a small space of your own

A studio is an apartment that doesn’t have a separate bedroom. Instead, your sleeping and living area is combined, and you’ll typically have your own kitchen and bathroom. It’s a great option for people who prefer their own space — but are still on a budget.

👍 Perfect for: Singles, couples
💰 Expect to pay: €500-1000

Renting an apartment in the Netherlands: a homey feel

Renting an apartment in the Netherlands can be perfect for couples, families, or a group of friends who want to rent together. If you choose to rent an apartment, you can also consider sub-renting the rooms! (Just make sure to check the contract conditions with your landlord first.) 

Naturally, the size of apartments and number of bedrooms in the Netherlands can vary a lot — and so will the prices.

👍 Perfect for: Couples, families, groups of friends, or sub-letters
💰 Expect to pay:

  • €1000-1300 for a one-bedroom
  • €1200-1600 for a two-bedroom
  • €1600+ for more than three bedrooms or €1000-5000 for luxury apartments

Renting an ‘anti-kraak’ property in the Netherlands: short-term and cheap

First things first, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Anti-kraak means “anti-squat” in Dutch and is a concept developed to prevent squatters from occupying empty buildings. The buildings rented out as anti-kraak can be everything from old offices, to general apartment blocks, to houseboats (score!).

Living in an anti-kraak is almost guaranteed to be the cheapest way to rent in the Netherlands (sometimes your monthly rent can be as low as €150!). 

However, cheap living also comes with a price. Living in an anti-kraak means you won’t have the same rights as a regular tenant and can be sent to the street with very little notice.

In short:  if you’re looking for something long-term, anti-kraak may not be for you but if you don’t mind moving around — and want something heel goedkoep (really cheap) — anti-squat may be the way to go!

👍 Perfect for: Singes, couples, groups of friends
💰 Expect to pay: €150-300

Renting a house in the Netherlands: family bliss

One thing you don’t see a lot of in Dutch cities is free-standing houses (vrijstaande woningen) so if you want to rent one of these bad boys, you might have to opt for the suburbs — and be prepared to pay big bucks.

READ MORE | Rent or buy a house in the Netherlands? What you need to know in 2021

Some other, more common, house rentals include terraced houses (or row houses for our American readers), known in Dutch as rijtjeshuisjes. Semi-detached houses (twee-onder-een kap-woning) are also a great option for families wishing to rent in the Netherlands.

👍 Perfect for: Couples, groups of friends, families
💰 Expect to pay: €1000+


🔎 Finding a place to rent in the Netherlands

After you’ve determined what kind of property you’d like to rent, the big question becomes “how do I find somewhere to rent?” Unfortunately, this is where it becomes tricky. 

The first thing you should do is familiarise yourself with the red flags for housing and rental scams. The housing shortage has primed the market for people seeking to scam others out of thousands of euros, so beware. Keeping that in mind, let’s find you a place, shall we?

Using Dutch rental agencies and real estate agents

Using a rental agency or a real estate agent is the safest way to ensure you’re not being scammed (except for the high [and sometimes illegal] agency fees 🙃). In the Netherlands, there are three different ways of doing this.

  • Using a real estate agent (makelaar) by looking through the listings on a page like Funda
  • Utilising a rental agency (verhuurbureau) which specialises in rental properties for internationals. These are usually located in large or student cities and have their own houses that the agency typically owns. The properties they list are often furnished or semi-furnished.
  • Hiring a rental real estate agent (makelaar) specifically to help you find a rental property. If you decide to hire a real estate agent, you can expect to be guided almost every step of the way on your Dutch rental journey — from property inspection to reading over the contract and advising you on utility providers. 

If you take the last option, a makelaar offers expert knowledge and an ever-watching eye on the market — this can come in handy because you have to act fast to lock down a place in most Dutch cities.

However, the service isn’t cheap: you can pay anything from a few hundred euros to a full month of rent for their services. You’ll likely also need to provide various forms of identification and proof of income.

young-couple-talking-to-dutch-realtor-about-renting-in-the-netherlands
A real estate agent can be a big help in finding a place to rent in the Netherlands. Image: GeorgeRudy/Depositphotos

Online portals and social media

It’s the 21st century, baby! Meaning online portals and social media could be your best friends during your search for a place to rent in the Netherlands. 

Some popular online portals with English websites include:

Social media can be a godsend, especially for those looking to rent a room, studio, or small apartment. In the Netherlands, some of the best rentals are found via via and sometimes, landlords don’t even bother putting their property on the market. Instead, they look for recommended tenants. 

So jump on social media and join various Facebook and WhatsApp groups for renters in your target Dutch city. You can also share a post to let people know what you’re looking for and why you’d be a good tenant. Ask friends, colleagues — essentially everyone —  if they know of anything being rented out! 

Here are some of the biggest Facebook groups in the largest Dutch cities:

Warning: Unfortunately scammers are especially common in the Netherlands, so be careful when looking for rentals on Facebook (even in the best of groups).

Private landlords

Rather than going through an agency, you can also contact the landlord directly (if they’ve included their details in an online listing or you’ve gotten them through an old tenant). This way you save a lot of money by avoiding administration fees but you’ll need to be extra diligent in your search process and weed out scammers.

The golden rule of thumb: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is! 👍

Always meet with your potential landlord (preferably in person) before agreeing to anything and make sure that you’ve seen the place for yourself before signing any contracts. 

Renting as an international student in the Netherlands

If you’ve come to study in the Netherlands, you have some additional options for housing that might serve you better the first year of living here than traditional renting. As an international student, you can contact your University Housing Office who offer a range of accommodation to incoming students. 

This doesn’t mean you can slack off though! University housing operates on a first come first served basis, so make sure you apply as soon as possible.

University housing tends to provide one-year contracts. When the year is up, you’ve hopefully landed well enough on your feet here to find a place on your own.

In the Netherlands, there are also housing organisations, such as DUWO and SSH, that specialise in student housing. Sometimes these can offer you an indefinite contract, meaning that you’re set for housing for as long as you’re a student — sweet! 

READ MORE | Student housing in the Netherlands: your guide to finding a room in 2021

Tip: If you are planning on finding a room or a studio through a student housing organisation, register as soon as possible. The longer you’re registered in the system the higher your chances are of getting a place.   


💶 Costs of renting in the Netherlands

With more than 40% of dwellings in the Netherlands being rentals, there should be plenty to choose from. However, the Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, so it can be difficult to find a place — especially in the Randstad

READ MORE | 7 underrated places to live outside of the Randstad 

Are rent prices really that high?

What happens when demand is high? Prices rise. Supply and demand, baby. 💸

According to Statista, the average rent in the Netherlands was €16.34 per square metre in the first quarter of 2021. The average is dragged up significantly by the expensive rents in Amsterdam where rent prices are often well-above the national average: €21.80. 

READ MORE | The cost of living in the Netherlands 

However, in places like The Hague and Rotterdam (Still within the Randstad!) prices tend to be lower than the national average. 

Tip: Expect to spend as little as €300 per month for a room, over €1000 for a one-bedroom apartment, and a few thousand for a bigger apartment or house depending on where you rent in the Netherlands.

Additional costs

Asides from your monthly rent, there are a number of other costs associated with renting in the Netherlands. Depending on your contract, additional costs can include:

DutchEnglishExample
Huurwargborg (‘de borg’ for short)Rental depositTypically one month’s rent
AdministratiekostenAdministration feesRegistration fee if you rent through an agency
ServicekostenUtilitiesGas, water, electricity, but can also cover maintenance and repairs
VerzekeringInsurancesHome insurance and content insurance
Belastingen en heffingen van de gemeenteMunicipal taxes and chargesTrash charge (afvalstoffenheffing) and property tax (Onroerendezaakbelasting or OZB for short)
MeubelenFurnishingsRanges from curtains to basic furniture, to everything you need.

One thing that a lot of people overlook is the yearly municipal taxes (usually paid in January when you’re already broke from buying Christmas presents). Be prepared to spend a good €300 on trash collection and water tax — sent with love from your gemeente (municipality). 

young-couple-sorting-the-costs-of-renting-in-the-netherlands
Sorting out taxes and utility bills is never fun, but now you know what to expect! Image: Ivanko1980/Depositphotos

‘Rental allowance’ in the Netherlands

Wondering how you’ll ever afford to rent in the Netherlands? Well, good news! If you’re on a low-income, the tax authority (Belastingsdienst) will subsidise your rent with a so-called rental allowance (huurtoeslaag) — if your situation fits the bill. 

One requirement is that you live in a “self-contained housing unit” like a studio or an apartment — so unfortunately, if you’re sharing a house with other people you will rarely qualify.

If you apply and are deemed eligible, you’ll receive money from the Belastingsdienst each month. How much depends on your age, your living situation, your income along with any savings/investments and, of course, your monthly rent.

So how do you know if your accommodation counts as a self-contained housing unit? If you have the following, you’re likely eligible for rental allowance:

  • Your own entrance (that can be locked from both the inside and the outside)
  • Your own living room or bedroom
  • A kitchen with a sink, water and drainage, and a connection point for a stove
  • A private toilet with flushing water

In case of doubt, the Dutch tax authorities have outlined some examples (in Dutch) that could be seen as grey areas.


🛠 What’s included when you rent a place in the Netherlands?

There are two main elements in your housing contract that may or may not be included in your monthly rent.

Utilities 

In some cases, utilities will be included as part of your “service costs.” This means the rent stated in your contract is the total amount you’ll have to pay each month — and you won’t have to worry about your budget suffering from the cold Dutch winters (or any other time of year to be honest).

When utilities are included in your rent, it’s often according to a “standard” of how much water, gas, and electricity an average person uses. Your contract may oblige your landlord or rental organisation to reimburse you on a yearly basis if you’ve used less than this amount — or charge you if you’ve used more.  

Another possibility is that utilities are not included. In this case, you’ll be charged per month according to the amount of water, gas, and electricity you’ve used.

Good to know: In rental ads, utilities are often represented as G/W/E (gas/water/electricity).

Furniture

In the Netherlands, a rental can come in one of three states:

  • Unfurnished (ongemeubileerd) 
  • Semi-furnished (gestoffeerd)
  • Furnished (gemeubileerd

Perhaps the number one thing that surprises internationals when they move to the Netherlands is that when the Dutch say “unfurnished” they mean really unfurnished. When renting in the Netherlands, it’s not uncommon to provide your own flooring, lights, curtains or blinds, and appliances.

With a semi-furnished place, most of the hard work is done for you. There’ll be flooring, curtains, and even some basic appliances. 

And furnished means, well, furnished. You’ll have at least all the larger pieces of furniture you may need to ensure a hassle-free move, and often some smaller items as well.

If you’re in doubt about what’s included when you see ongemeubileerd, gestoffeerd, and gemeubileerd then contact your landlord. It’s better to show up prepared than be taken aback by a lack of flooring!  

moving-into-a-rented-apartment-in-the-netherlands
Make sure you know what state your housing is in before moving. Image: Ivan Samkov/Pexels

✍️ Rental contracts in the Netherlands

Two important things to know about rental contracts in the Netherlands are that: one, they are pro-tenant (woo!) and two, they can be either written or oral — ja echt (yes, really!). 

READ MORE | The guide to private housing and social housing in the Netherlands: what’s the difference?

Written and oral rental contracts

If possible, always opt for a written contract. This way your rights are more secure and you have something to refer back to in case of a dispute. Oral contracts are less common — and for a good reason —  but if you do enter an oral contract, make sure to have a witness! 

Fixed-period and indefinite contracts

Contracts can also vary in terms of the rental period. While you officially have either a fixed-period contract or an indefinite contract, in practice, there are five possible types of contracts determining the length of your tenancy in the Netherlands: 

Unspecified

If the rental period is unspecified (essentially indefinite), you can leave your contract at any time — provided that you give your landlord one calendar month’s notice. Your rights as a tenant are protected and your landlord cannot evict you unless you’ve been an exceptionally bad tenant. (Which of course you aren’t 😚).

Unspecified but with an initial minimum renting period

Your contract commits you to rent the property for a specified period of time (usually one year). In this case, you cannot leave your contract early. Once the initial fixed period ends, your contract automatically converts to an unspecified contract.

If you want to terminate your lease during that unspecified time span, you can. Just remember to give your landlord one calendar month’s notice. You are protected from unjust eviction all throughout the contract.

Fixed period of no more than two years 

A third possibility is a fixed-period contract that ends automatically on the agreed-upon date. You are not protected from eviction by the landlord and you’ll have to move out by the end of the period. The landlord, however, has to remind you that the contract is coming to an end between one and three calendar months in advance. If you haven’t received a notice, you have the right to stay. 

Just like the landlord, you can also decide to end the lease at any point in the contract (as long as you give one calendar month’s notice).

If agreed to by both parties, this type of contract can be extended, in which case you have full protection from eviction. 

Fixed period of more than two years

Your contract specifies an initial tenancy period of more than two years and you cannot leave your contract earlier than this date. After the initial fixed period is over, your contract becomes indefinite. 

At any point after the initial fixed period, you can give your landlord a one calendar month notice to terminate your lease. All throughout the contract, you are fully protected from eviction.

Good to know: You can try asking for a diplomatic clause in your rental contract. This will allow you to leave your indefinite contract before the minimum term has ended. A diplomatic clause works, for example, in the case of job loss or a need to move to a different city or country for work.

Campus contracts for students in the Netherlands

As a student, you could also have a so-called campuscontract. Campus contracts are only applicable to student housing and are a way to ensure that you don’t continue living in the accommodation after graduating. With a campus contract, you’ll need to send proof of enrollment to the housing organisation every six months or so.

Content of Dutch rental contracts

In addition to the length of the contract, the rent, and terms and conditions, you’ll always find the following in a Dutch rental contract:

  • The date on which the rent will be increased each year (if applicable)
  • Maintenance agreements
  • House rules
  • Yours and the landlord’s signatures

Tenant and landlord responsibilities

The rental contract will state the responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord respectably. This way, you can always refer back and see what’s expected of you — and what you can expect of your landlord!

In general:

  • Tenants are responsible for carrying out and paying for minor repairs (within reason!).
  • Landlords are responsible for carrying out and paying larger repairs.
  • Tenants should give the landlord access to the accommodation so they can carry out maintenance or repair.
young-man-sitting-on-steps-to-amsterdam-rental-apartment
It can be hard to find a dream canal house to rent in the Netherlands — but you can always try! Image: Tetyanka/Depositphotos

🙅‍♀️ How to deal with rental conflicts in the Netherlands

Landlord refusing to give your deposit back? Shabby maintenance? Or an unexpected rent increase? Here’s what to do if you have issues with your landlord or housing.

First of all, if you have a complaint about your landlord while renting in the Netherlands, talk to them. This is where a good dose of Dutch directness can come in handy. It’s always a good idea to submit your complaints in writing. This way, you’ll have a record of what you’ve asked of your landlord, and when. 

Unfortunately, talking just doesn’t cut it sometimes. If your landlord doesn’t listen to you or you suspect they’re in the wrong, you can consider getting legal advice to learn where you stand in terms of Dutch law. 

In the Netherlands, the government has set up an agency for free legal advice called Het Juridisch Loket. On their website, they have a whole section called ‘Living and neighbours’ which includes FAQs about renting. In addition to providing information, tips, and sample complaint letters, they also offer personalised advice.

Advice from a non-profit: !Woon

More free advice — woop woop! !Woon is another organisation committed to making the Dutch rental market safer, !Woon operates confidentially and free of charge. They provide information, advice, and support for tenants in Amsterdam and nearby municipalities, including Haarlem and Amstelveen.

Complaint committee

If the complaint can’t be solved directly with your landlord, you can contact the complaints committee. Most housing associations in the social sector have such a committee and even if you’re renting privately, a complaints committee could also exist. 

In the case that the complaints committee can’t solve the problem (or there wasn’t any committee to refer it to), your complaint gets labelled as a “dispute” and you can take it to the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie).

Let op! The Rent Tribunal only deals with disputes about housing, rented rooms, and caravans. It does not take up cases about nuisance, housing benefits, or business/office accommodation.

Huurcommissie 

The Dutch Rent Tribunal is an alternative, out of court, dispute resolution service — and recognised as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body by the EU. This means it’s an independent and impartial agency that provides information, mediation, and arbitrage for tenants and landlords.

Proceedings with the Rent Tribunal cost €25 for private persons and €450 for legal entities.


💬 Useful Dutch terms for renting a room, studio, or apartment in the Netherlands

DutchEnglish
Te huurFor rent
Betaling huurRent payment
Kale huurBasic rent (without service costs)
De borgRental deposit
KamerRoom
StudioStudio
Appartement Apartment
AntikraakAnti squatting
Vrijstaande woningFree standing house
RijtjeshuisTerraced/row house
Twee-onder-een kap-woningSemi-detached house
HuurtoeslagRental allowance
Zelfstandige woonruimteSelf-contained housing unit
MakelaarReal estate agent
VerhuurbureauRental agency
Ongemeubileerd Unfurnished
GestoffeerdSemi-furnished
GemeubileerdFurnished
HuurcontractRental contract
OndertekenenTo sign
VerhuurderLandlord
HuurderTenant
Buurman/vrouwNeighbour
HuisgenotenHousemates
PandBuilding
KlachtComplaint
Aanpassing van de huurprijsProposal to adjust rent
WoningResidence
HospitaAn owner that rents out a room to students (while also living in the house themselves)
Huurcontract voor bepaalde tijdFixed-period contract
Tijdelijke huurcontractTemporary contract
DiplomatenclausuleDiplomatic clause

🤔 Renting a room, studio, or apartment in the Netherlands: frequently asked questions

You can leave your contract early unless it specifies an initial minimum tenancy period. In the Netherlands, minimum tenancy periods apply to fixed-period contracts of more than two years and indefinite/unspecified contracts with an agreed-upon expiry date. If you want to leave your Dutch rental contract, you need to give your landlord one calendar month’s notice.

To get your rental deposit back in the Netherlands (if you haven’t received it automatically), you need to send a registered letter to your landlord or rental agency. In the letter, you should explain why you disagree with your landlord not giving you your deposit and clearly state that you intend to take legal action if they don’t return your deposit within five working days. If they still refuse to pay (or simply ignore your letter), then get legal help!

Depending on what type of property you decide to rent (and where!), your monthly rent can vary from €300 and well into several thousand. In the first quarter of 2021, the average rent in the Netherlands was €16.34 per square metre.

Depending on what type of property you decide to rent (and where!), your monthly rent can vary from €300 and well into several thousand. In the first quarter of 2021, the average rent in the Netherlands was €16.34 per square metre.

Most fixed-term rental contracts in the Netherlands last for at least one year. If you want something more temporary, you can search for anti-kraak buildings, Airbnbs, or house sitting opportunities. You can also contact people who are subletting through social media. Note that, likely, you won’t be able to register with the municipality when only renting short term.

Housing and rental scams are unfortunately common in the Netherlands. To avoid falling for a scam, scrutinize your potential landlord’s social media and the pictures of the rental, familiarise yourself with what scam messages look like, and never sign anything before you feel 100% comfortable.

If you are living in the Netherlands, you should always register with your Dutch municipality and obtain a BSN number.

Do you have any tips for renting in the Netherlands? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Milkos/Depositphotos

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Not that I had this issue, but this guide totally ignores the salary requirements of most landlords and other things that landlords put in place in the screening phase. I just think the guide is generally missing a big element ‘how to actually get an apartment, given your situation’

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