Dutch landlords target expats to make extra cash by keeping rental deposits

Let op, internationals! Thousands of landlords in the Netherlands do not return deposits to their tenants — even when nothing has been damaged in the rental property.

This is often seen in cases where the tenant is an expat, with hundreds of incidents occurring in, you guessed it, Amsterdam.

The alarm has been sounded by various Dutch rental organisations who assist tenants.

“What is striking is that many expats have to deal with it. They often have to pay two to three times the rent as a deposit. And an apartment in Amsterdam easily costs €2000 per month. Then you are talking about €4000 to €6000,” Gert Jan Bakker of the rental organisation, !Woon, tells the NOS.

Expats are the ideal target

Bakker explains that expats are the ideal victim when a landlord wants to get greedy and try to keep the deposit. This is because they often don’t stay in one place for too long, meaning that the landlord can receive multiple deposits in the span of a few years.

On top of this, expats are more likely to move abroad, making it more difficult for them to reach the landlord should they fail to return the deposit.

“Such a landlord knows this and then thinks: why should I repay the deposit?” Bakker tells the NOS, “But even if a tenant is now in Tokyo, we try to get that deposit back, with letters, collections and subpoenas.”

Hope to deter the tenant

Hit the gym folks, because coming after these landlords often requires an almighty effort — and they know it. Landlords hope that the tenant will be deterred by the many hoops involved in taking legal action against them. This is especially difficult if you are trying to do so from abroad.

READ MORE | Housing & rental scams in the Netherlands: ultimate red flag guide

Fleur van Leeuwen of Urbannerdam — an organisation that helps tenants in the municipalities of Leiden, Utrecht, Rotterdam and many others — explains to the NOS that tenants “have to consider whether the costs outweigh the possible profit. It often takes a €500 deposit to hire a lawyer.”

How to prevent this from happening

Bakker offers some tips for tenants in order to avoid getting swindled by their landlord. The first thing to do is to carry out an inspection of the room with your landlord when you first move in and out of the property.

Document everything. Take note of any initial damage by taking pictures, this way you have proof should your landlord try to claim the cost from your own deposit.

READ MORE | Rental deposits in the Netherlands: how to get your cash back

It’s also important to establish whether the property has suffered damage, or simply normal wear and tear, Bakker explains. “A new scratch on the floor does not mean that the landlord can withhold a deposit. It must be real damage, for example, if you kicked a door.”

Stay safe out there folks, and don’t get swindled!

Have you has similar experiences with your landlord? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: rsedlacek/Depositphotos

Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah O'Leary 🇮🇪
Sarah originally arrived in the Netherlands due to an inability to make her own decisions — she was simply told by her mother to choose the Netherlands for Erasmus. Life here has been challenging (have you heard the language) but brilliant for Sarah, and she loves to write about it. When Sarah is not acting as a safety threat to herself and others (cycling), you can find her sitting in a corner of Leiden with a coffee, trying to sound witty.


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