Renting a house or apartment
Most internationals who move to The Hague region start out by renting an apartment or house. There are plenty of different types of rental properties: from fully furnished short-stay apartments, where you need to bring barely more than your toothbrush, to longer-term, unfurnished rentals. Renting provides an good base for settling in and exploring the neighbourhoods. And it’s an ideal first step into the world of Dutch housing. Many people go on to buy a property, but there are also lots of long-term renters.
The Social Sector
In the Netherlands, rental properties are commonly separated into two sectors: the social sector and the private sector.
Properties with a monthly rent that’s below a certain amount (in 2021 this limit was €752, but it’s subject to change on a yearly basis) qualify as ‘social sector’ housing. They are generally owned by non-profit housing corporations or cooperatives. Tenants can only have a maximum income of around €40,000 per year to qualify for social housing. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of social housing in the Netherlands, and waiting lists can be up to 10 years in some regions, making these unavailable for most internationals. This means that most international residents look to the private sector for housing in The Hague.
Privately Rented Housing
Also known as the ‘free market’, private rentals cost more than €752 per month (as of 2021). The private sector covers most properties available to newcomers, and prices are not controlled by local or national government. Accordingly, this means that lots of rental housing in the Netherlands can feel somewhat expensive for the size.
In The Hague, the municipality requires tenants to have an ‘affordable rent permit’ (huisvestingsvergunning) for privately rented properties with a relatively low rent (the exact limit changes regularly) as well as for homes with less than 185 points in a valuation system. The permit protects rental prices for people with a lower income. Whether tenants are eligible for the permit depends on their income. This means people with an annual income of €60,000 or above as single or €70,000 or above as a couple may not be able to rent these properties and have to rent more expensive housing. Note that many agencies will not actually hand over the keys to a rented property until you can prove you have applied for the permit.
Lower-income earners may be eligible for a rent benefit. Known as huurtoeslag, the benefit means part of the rental costs are reimbursed. In order to qualify for this benefit, certain conditions must be met by both the tenant and the property. For example, the property must be ‘standalone’: that is, with its own kitchen, bathroom, front door, and address. The monthly rent must be higher than €237.62, but below €752.33. Eligibility is calculated based on your household income. Find out more about the rental benefit via the Dutch tax authority (Belastingdienst).
The Costs of Renting a Home
In the Netherlands it is usual to pay a deposit (borg) of one or two months’ rent. You may also choose to pay for items that are carried over from the previous tenant. This can include the cost of, for example, household appliances, laminate flooring, or any items of furniture that you have agreed to take over.
Be aware that additional fees such as ‘key charges’ are illegal in the Netherlands. Some rental agencies may ask for an administration fee, but this should be a small amount. If you think that you are being asked to pay too much (for example, a fee the equivalent of one month’s rent), get in contact with the Fair Rent Team at your local municipality.
Furnishings and Appliances
Basic rent excluding utilities such as water and electricity is called ‘kale huur’. Many homes are let unfurnished – search for furnished homes if you want to move in with everything set up. Some housing sites will allow you to add this request to your search. Interestingly, many old Dutch houses come with built-in cupboards or at least one wardrobe in a bedroom. Check your contract to see which appliances are included as part of your lease. You may be able to make a deal to purchase these from the previous occupants.
Believe it or not, the Dutch have a habit of taking their floors (and curtains, and lightbulbs!) with them when they move. Sometimes, previous renters will make you an offer for leaving their wooden floor in the house. If you do not want to pay for this, they could take the floor with them. Flooring can be expensive to replace so consider this in your overall budget.
How to Find a Rental Property
Begin your search for The Hague real estate as early as possible. The Randstad Metropolitan Area is facing a period of limited supply of housing, which especially affects students, young people and middle-income earners. Keep the following tips in mind when searching for rental houses and apartments.
- You might find it easier to secure short-stay accommodation at first. This way, you have an address to use to register with the municipality, settle in and start viewing homes for rent.
- Consider seeking the assistance of a real-estate or relocation agent. They usually charge a commission of about one month’s rent for their help if you find a property through them.
- Funda and Pararius are the largest search engines of housing to rent and to buy. When you find a property you like, contact the real-estate agent to arrange a viewing.
- Check out the free, independent platform Expat Rental Market The Hague to become familiar with housing in The Hague.
Things to Consider When Renting
Before you sign a tenancy agreement, make sure you check all the details. Dutch rental contracts may differ from those in your home country. As always, pay attention to the conditions and ask for an independent opinion if in doubt.
Scammers unfortunately target house-hunters who are unfamiliar with the Dutch property market. Never pay a deposit from overseas or until you’ve physically viewed the property.
There are no set rental rules when it comes to having pets; this varies by housing contract. While landlords will not generally come to check your living space, there could be repercussions if they find pets on your property without permission.
Insist on a ‘diplomatic clause’ (a break clause) in your rental contract. This addition allows you to break the contract if you have to return to your home country or a new destination.
Finding your ideal rental property in The Hague is a challenging but rewarding process. Always do as much research as you can, and seek advice from the expert housing associations who are there to help. For more information on housing, read up on short-stay accommodation, and learn about getting a mortgage and buying a home in the Netherlands. To help choose a location, you can also explore local neighbourhoods and other cities in surrounding region.