Most internationals who move to The Hague region start with renting an apartment or house. Once you have settled down in your new neighbourhood, it is easy to discover the city and all it has to offer. The housing market in the Netherlands has three different options for renting.
Social housing (sociale huur)
For incomes below 44,360 euros a year (2017), there is the so-called social housing market. However, it is not possible to get a house or an apartment this way immediately. There is a long waiting list, currently resulting in a waiting period of more than 4 years to find a house. If you believe this is a good match for you, you can register via Woonnet Haaglanden (in Dutch). The municipality of The Hague is often in charge of social housing and can be reached in case of damages or calamities.
Free market renting (vrije sector)
For singles or families who do not qualify for social housing, or for those who are in need of a quicker solution, there is the so-called free market of rentals. Here, landlords rent out their apartments or houses and are responsible for the upkeep. Negotiations with a renter will often be handled by an agency; one of the demands tends to be that a renter’s monthly income should be 4 times to 4,5 times the actual rent.
More than 60,000 expats live in The Hague region. This has not only changed how the city operates, but also the ways to find housing. A large number of realtors are available to help you find so-called “expat housing”. These apartments can be rented quickly, are often furnished and are very well maintained. Rent is higher than regular housing, but the convenience and availability is often worth it.
- Check out the free, independent platform Expat Rental Market The Hague to become familiar with housing.
- Funda is the primary website to find housing in the Netherlands. The website is an initiative of the NVM, one of the biggest organisations of real estate agents.
- Pararius has a large section of available rentals in The Hague.
- Find out more information about renting the non-commercial sector at the Municipality of The Hague’s website.
Things to consider when renting
Before you sign a rental agreement, make sure you check all the details. After all, assuming everything is included could have quite an effect on your budget. The Dutch have a few funny little habits that you may not be used to when dealing with a landlord.
Deposits and giving notice
Each landlord has a different set rules for their property. But in general, when you rent an apartment, house or even just a room, you should expect to put up more than just one month of rent. Landlords in the Netherlands will often expect the first month of rent plus a deposit, which makes it 2 months’ rent total. If your new house is very well-kept, they may even ask for a third month, in order to cover the final month.
If you decide to leave the property, you will normally have to give 1 month notice to the owner. In some cases, the owner may decide to end their contract with you, but by law they are obliged to give you at least 3 months’ notice.
If you plan to go into business with a rental company, keep in mind that they will often rent out property for at least one year. In some cases, the contract will automatically be renewed unless you object against it. When you move out after at least a year, you may have to give them one-month notice.
Furnished or unfurnished?
What makes you feel right at home in an apartment is often the furniture. A comfortable couch, some nice decorations and a large closet in the bedroom. But it is possible that you are not getting all of that. There is such a thing called ‘kale huur’, the basic rent, which does not include all the extras. The Dutch are often pretty aware of their spending, which shows in rental contracts: most people will rather bring their own furniture than pay extra. If you want a place that is move in ready and will immediately provide you with everything you need, make sure to say this from the beginning. Some housing sites will allow you to add this request to your search. If you are assisted by a realtor, make sure to tell them what exactly you are looking for. A bonus: many old Dutch houses will have built in cupboards or at least one closet in a bedroom.
Being cheap and ‘going Dutch’ is something you will also see in kitchens. Do not assume that you can immediately use that nice, big refrigerator in the kitchen; it may not be part of your lease. That also applies to a washer and dryer in an apartment. You will have to check the contract to make sure if they are part of your lease. If not having certain appliances is a problem for you, you may be able to make a deal beforehand. Do not let the lack of a washer and dryer scare you off, especially not when you are single. After all, there are many laundrettes in the city centre of The Hague.
Believe it or not, but the Dutch have a habit of taking their floors with them. If you are going to rent from an individual, they may inform you at the last moment that there is an extra fee for the flooring. This is especially the case when the flooring is brand new. It can also happen that the previous renters will make you an offer: for some compensation they may leave their wooden floor in the house. If you do not want to pay for this, they could take the floor with them. So, give it some thought; it may be odd at first, but this is how it goes in the Netherlands. Getting a new floor may cost you more money.
There are no set rental rules when it comes to having pets; this will depend per housing contract. In apartments, it is often listed in the contract that there are no cats or dogs allowed. Smaller animals may be tolerated, such as birds, turtles and fish, especially when they pose no risk of damaging the rental space. While landlords will not generally come to check out the living space, you should be aware that they could inflict sanctions if they do find pets in your house.
Rent benefit (huurtoeslag)
If you are renting a house, you may be entitled to rent benefit. This is a contribution towards your rental costs. In order to qualify for the Dutch rent benefit, you (and your fiscal partner) need to meet certain conditions. You can apply for rent benefit yourself via the Belastingdienst. You will need a DigiD for this.