How To Rent A House In The Netherlands

How To Rent A House In The Netherlands

Tips and tricks on finding a decent place to live in the Netherlands // Arnhem

Unlike many other countries in Europe, in the Netherlands is not very custom to rent out a fully furnished house or apartment. You might be able to find those in the 4 big cities (Amsterdam, Utrecht, Den Haag and Rotterdam), but here in Arnhem, it’s unlikely you’ll find something where you can move in with nothing more than your suitcase in your hand.

How To Rent A House In The Netherlands
How To Rent A House In The Netherlands

Furnished and Unfurnished Rental Houses

Usually, all the places are rented out unfurnished, and – yes I know it’s really strange – it means also without lights, no carpet, no curtains, no nothing! Here places are rented out completely empty!
Why would you think? First, I think it has to do with the fact we Dutch like to have our own furniture. Sleeping on a mattress that has been used before or sitting on an ugly couch, makes us uncomfortable. At least, I get that (especially with ugly couches).

Second: we are always afraid people will destroy our stuff. Cause the Dutch do sit a bit on their money…. So even when we profit from someone renting our flat, we can get very upset when a small thing gets destroyed (on purpose or not). So we rent out our house more or less “empty”.

There might be a few furnished homes available on

 Bring or Buy Your Own Furniture

So, when you are looking for a place to rent in Arnhem, make sure you bring your own furniture. Or be prepared to buy stuff. And do not worry, Ikea is always a blink away, same as many second-hand stores. You might be lucky and find a “gestoffeerd” house, meaning there is something covering the concrete floor and there are (some) curtains.

Then: in Arnhem, it’s really difficult to find a place that will be rented out for less than a year. Why? We Dutch like security and are happier when someone will rent for at least a year than just a few months. Due to these reasons, the prices for an apartment rented out for months instead of years, are in general higher. Take at least 700 euro pm in mind to start with when you are looking for a place of your own (studio). A two- bedroom flat could easily cost around 900 per month, not even with furniture or utilities included.

There is something else that makes the rental business in Arnhem (or the Netherlands) different than in other European countries, and that’s the fact we have social housing and private housing. Social housing are either places rented out by social housing associations (for example Volkshuisvesting or Portaal, check the website of Entree to see the offers: or places where it’s allowed to receive money from the government when renting.

How To Rent A House In The Netherlands
How To Rent A House In The Netherlands

Rental Allowance – But With Strict Rules

What? Yes, our government is so crazy they actually give money away to people when they are renting a place. I know you’re thinking it can not be true, but it is. Of course with a BUT.

First of all, the place you rent, can’t be more in rent (so not the extra costs) for a max of 710 euro a month (2016 number). And second: it must be allowed to receive this support. In general, it means your place should have your own front door. And last but not least: your gross income cannot be higher than 22,100 euro a year (2016 number) when you are living alone.
The shitty part is that for housing associations, the average waiting time for a two-bedroom apartment, for example, can be between 8 to 12 years depending on the location (Malburgen is less wanted then Klarendal). You don’t need to pay with the associations to be on the waiting list, but yes, you must be a Dutch citizen or have a legal permit to stay in the Netherlands.

For private housing, in general, the rent can be more or less what the landlord wants it to be (which is not 100% true, I will explain later), so many landlords rent places out just above the 710 euro allowance limit and then they’ll say it’s all included so they can avoid specifying the basic rent (to avoid you asking for this allowance or have the place checked out via the “puntentelling”-> more about this later). So bye-bye support. Also many private houses, mainly studios, don’t fall under the category of being allowed to get this benefit as there is not really a front door just for your place. We call these rents liberalised.

When you’re doubting if you are paying way too much, this page which might come handy: its the one of the Huurcommissie, the commission for renters in Holland who have strict guidelines what a place is worth and how much you should actually pay for it * this is also available for student rooms. The so-called “puntentelling”. So, in some cases, landlords can not ask whatever they want…. This is non-liberalised rents only.

How To Rent A House In The Netherlands
How To Rent A House In The Netherlands


This “huurcommissie” system works fine, but can be a bit tricky as you first need to live in a place that’s too expensive– and to pay too much – in order to start a procedure to get the rent down. Landlords, in general, aren’t very happy with and sometimes lack fixing stuff in return. Check this page for details(unfortunately only in Dutch: puntentelling.
Luckily the majority of landlords just want happy people so they’ll be fair. At least in Arnhem (I hope).

Then another tricky thing you should keep on mind: real estate agency can not officially ask you more then let’s say 50 euro – for contract or administration costs when you have not asked them officially to look for a place for you the Woonbond stated “een paar tientjes” as being a normal fee, BUT only when you are responding to an available place to rent. So when you have asked them to look for a place for you, this rule does not apply.
Any fee or a higher amount than let’s say 50 euro when you are responding to an add, is legally not allowed. Of course, they will ask you to pay for it anyway! Paying any “bemiddelingskosten oradministratiekosten” has been prohibited as these costs are for the owner of the complex, not the renter! Here the renters association the Woonbond can help. Check this page to find out the details, cause yes, you can get these costs back, even after you paid the fee: recht/bemiddelingskosten (all in Dutch).

Short Term Rental and/or Furnished Places are Hard to Find in Arnhem

So, in general: we have strict rules for the amount of rent you should pay when a place is “non liberalised”.
Short term rental is not very common when it comes down to houses or apartments, but yes for rooms (maybe you should try sharing a place!). And renting something furnished is even less common. Be prepared when you’re moving down to Arnhem.

My general advice when renting a place is you trust your guts! And then….
– First, rent via Airbnb, for example when you’re moving to Arnhem for a few months and then start visiting places when you are actually here. Get your Airbnb discount here and make your first booking.
– When it’s too good to be true, it usually is.
– When the owner or landlord is in a foreign country and asks you to pay via Western Union, then he or she will scam you!
– Always ask time to re-read a contractor have it translated by someone if you don’t understand it *and a rental contract must be in Dutch to be legal.
– Do not pay any money up front.
– 1 months deposit is normal, more is not that normal and you should think twice about it then (or is there a good reason they are asking more?)
– Is the house furnished? Make sure you check every piece of furniture with the agency before signing the contract to avoid discussions about little scratches that will be taken of your deposit.
– Make sure you know 100% what’s included in the rent… usually, you need to pay:
1. rent
2. gas
3. water (sometimes this is included in the rent, check the tenant agreement for this)
4. electricity
5. garbage bills (afvalstoffenheffing)
6. sewer charges (rioolheffing)
7. taxes on water (waterschapsbelasting)
and depending on your preferences: phone, internet and insurance on the furniture– in case of fire, theft etc (inboedelverzekering).

Can you be registered at this address? This might be important for any social securities or welfare etc. And of course, if you want to apply for the rental allowance from the government.

Best websites to look for a place to live are Funda rental or Pararius rental. These are sites when you can find houses and apartment from either private owners or agencies. In Arnhem we have furthermore two Facebook groups that offer places to live; mainly rooms, but studios and apartments can be found here as well: “Kamer Arnhem” and “Kamermarkt Arnhem”. (I am one of the moderators of this last group.)

Other useful websites:
Government explanation on renting (English).
Tax and Custom’s Administration page regarding the rent allowance (English).

Good luck! Anything I missed? Let me know, I am happy to help!

Blog by ArnhemLife blogger Mabel at Arnhem.
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