Housing rights The Hague region

Housing rights

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Finding a house in your new home town can be very exciting. However, everyone who buys or rents a house in the Netherlands should always keep in mind their rights.

Housing rights for tenants

Although the Dutch law has many rules that protect your rights as a tenant, you should always be careful signing a tenancy agreement. 6 months into the contract, many rights may have or could soon expire. A rental contract should generally include several aspects such as utilities, specific house rules and a starting and ending date.

Both tenant and landlord have duties to ensure everything goes well.

The landlord should:

  • ensure availability of the property within the agreed rental period.
  • cover any necessary major repairs and maintenance (within a reasonable period).
  • solve any problems affecting the tenant (plumbing, electricity, Internet etc.).
  • give valid reasons and notice to cancel the rental contract.

The tenant should:

  • pay the agreed monthly rent on time.
  • follow the agreed house rules.
  • pay for minor repairs that are inexpensive.
  • allow the landlord to enter the accommodation to make repairs (within a reasonable period).
  • give valid reasons and notice to cancel the rental contract.

What to consider when signing a rental contract

  • Deposit and contract expenses: When you rent a home, the landlord can ask you to pay a deposit. Sometimes the landlord also charges contract and administration expenses. Landlords are allowed to ask for a reasonable deposit, but the charging of contract and administration expenses can often be disputed. Usually the deposit amounts to a rent of one or two months. Three months is considered unreasonable. If you have paid too much, you can try to get some money back. In such a situation, you can ask for free legal advice from the legal advisors of the municipality or the Fair Rent Team if you live in The Hague. Or you can go to the legal desk of the national government (Juridisch Loket).
  • Buying items from previous tenant (‘overnamekosten’): Many tenants make home improvements at their own expense, such as a new shower, a modern kitchen, central heating, etc. When they move, they often ask the new tenants for a payment to cover the costs. This is only permitted for movable items in the home (e.g. curtains, carpets). The money you pay for items that the previous resident leaves behind is called ‘overnamekosten’ in Dutch. The price must be reasonable. The departing tenant may not charge anything for fixed masonry and carpentry work, such as plastering, a shower, central heating and so on.
  • Key fee (sleutelgeld): It is illegal for landlords to request that a tenant pay a fee before they can move into the home. This is called the 'key fee' ('sleutelgeld'), and departing tenants also sometimes demand such a payment, either with or without permission from the landlord. This term is also used when the tenant asks for ‘overnamekosten’ (see above) without offering any goods in return. Essentially it means that you are paying a sum of money just to receive the key, while the other party does nothing in return. Charging key money is not permitted. Do not pay!

What to do when you have a disagreement with your landlord

If something in your house needs to be fixed, but your landlord is not being responsive or refuses to fix the problem, then there are certain steps that you can take:

  • First of all, you must submit your complaint to your landlord.
  • If that does not resolve the problem, you can submit your complaint to the landlord’s complaints committee. Most housing associations have one.
  • If this does not resolve things, you may be able to bring your complaint before the Fair Rent Commission (when you live in The Hague) or the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie). In the case of nuisance and dangerous situations, you can contact The Hague Housing Inspection Bureau if you live in The Hague.
  • If all else fails, you can always contact a lawyer.

Housing rights for home owners

If you have a problem as a home owner you can fall back on your legal expenses insurance policy (rechtsbijstandsverzekering). You can also choose to join Vereniging Eigen Huis, an organisation that promotes the interests of home owners. They can give you individual assistance and advice (website in Dutch only).