Rented housing

Both social and private (non-subsidised) housing can be rented in the Netherlands. Rules apply to both the tenant and the landlord. They cover security of tenure, rent, rent increases, maintenance, service charges, etc. Social housing tenants on low incomes are entitled to housing benefit if their rent is relatively high.

Social housing

Approximately 75% of the 3 million rental homes in the Netherlands belong to housing associations. These associations are responsible among other things for letting social housing, defined as homes for which the initial monthly rent is under the then rent limit for liberalised tenancy agreements (private sector) (in Dutch). The current limit (2024) is € 879.66. Each year, housing associations must let 92.5% of their vacant social housing to people with an income of up to € 47,699 (one-person household) or € 52,671 (multi-person household) and no more than 7.5% to people with higher incomes than € 47,699 and € 52,671 respectively (2024).  In some regions the housing shortage is too high for a 7.5% free allocation to suffice. In that case are housing associations allowed to agree to a locally higher percentage of free allocation with the municipality and tenant’s association, up to a maximum of 15%. 

Tenancy agreements

Houses are let subject to a tenancy agreement. The agreement sets out the terms and conditions agreed by the tenant and landlord. It states how high the rent is and whether the tenancy is for a fixed or an indefinite period. It must include:

  • the date on which the rent will be increased each year;
  • maintenance agreements;
  • house rules;
  • the tenant’s and the landlord’s signatures.

Written or oral agreements

A tenancy agreement does not need to be in writing. An oral agreement is also valid but is more difficult to prove. You should take a witness with you if you want to conclude an oral agreement.

Fixed-period or indefinite tenancy agreement

A tenancy agreement is for either a fixed or an indefinite period. An agreement for a fixed period includes a final date. Do you have a fixed-period tenancy agreement of up to 2 years (for a self-contained dwelling; like a house or apartment) or up to 5 years (for a not self-contained dwelling; like a room)? If the agreement was entered into on or after 1 July 2016, your tenancy will end automatically on the final date specified in the contract. The landlord must confirm this in writing at least 1 month – but no more than 3 months – before the tenancy ends. As a tenant, you can also terminate your tenancy before the final date.

Do you have a fixed-period tenancy agreement of more than 2 years (for a self-contained dwelling) or 5 years (for a not self-contained dwelling)? Or do you have a fixed-period tenancy agreement that was entered into before 1 July 2016? This is not a temporary agreement. The agreement cannot be ended before the final date unless both the tenant and the landlord agree. The tenancy does not end automatically on the final date. Both the tenant and the landlord must terminate the agreement by means of a written notice sent by registered post.

For information on other temporary rented housing options, see Rijksoverheid.nl (in Dutch).

Tenancy agreement in the private sector

Tenancy agreements in the more expensive private housing sector have been liberalized (in terms of rent); the tenant and the landlord have more freedom to agree the rent and services provided. The rental value of the property is not based on a points system and there is no maximum rent. Only self-contained housing can be rented under such an agreement. Housing that is not self-contained (such as a room in a house) cannot.

For a period of 3 years (1 May 2021 until 1 May 2024) the annual rent increase is limited by law. The maximum rent increase is inflation + 1%, or (as off 2023) wage development + 1% when the wage development is lower than the inflation. In 2023 the maximum rent increase was 4.1% (3.1% wage development + 1%).  In 2024 the maximum rent increase is 5.5% (4.5% inflation + 1%).

As off the 1st of July 2022 this maximum rent increase applies also to berthes for housing boats.

The tenant can submit a possible dispute with the landlord about the amount of the rent increase to The Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie).

Rent ceiling

If the tenancy agreement does not have a liberalized rent, the rent payable for rented housing is subject to a ceiling. The maximum rent depends on the quality of the housing. You can work out the maximum rent for your home using the rent points system (in Dutch).

Housing benefit

If you spend a large proportion of your income on rent, you may be eligible for rent benefit. You can apply to the Tax and Customs Administration.

Maintenance rules

The tenant and landlord have their own responsibilities to maintain, repair and replace parts of the rented accommodation.

In general:

  • the tenant pays for minor repairs and the landlord for major repairs and maintenance;
  • the tenant must have easy access to make minor repairs and the repairs must not be expensive. Otherwise, the landlord must pay for them;
  • the tenant must allow the landlord to enter the accommodation to carry out maintenance or repairs.

Complaints about landlords

Complaints must be submitted to the landlord. If a complaint cannot be resolved satisfactorily, tenants can submit it to the landlord's complaints committee. Most housing associations operating in the social housing sector and some private housing organisations have a complaints committee.

When a complaint isn't solved, it becomes a dispute. Disputes can be brought before the Rent Tribunal (in Dutch: Huurcommissie). Disputes about rent levels, maintenance or service charges can be submitted to the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie).

Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie)

The Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie) is a national, independent and impartial agency which can mediate and adjudicate on disputes between tenants and landlords about rent levels, maintenance and service charges.

The Rent Tribunal  (Huurcommissie) is an ADR: an Alternative, out of court, Dispute Resolution service. It provides information, mediation and arbitrage. It only deals with disputes about housing, rented rooms and caravans. It does not deal with nuisance, housing benefit and business/office accommodation.

Proceedings

If a tenant and a landlord have a dispute that they cannot solve themselves, they can start proceedings at the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie). This costs for most proceedings €25 for a private person and €450 for a company or organisation (legal entity).

Tenants can start proceedings on the following matters:

  • Rent charged under a new tenancy agreement
  • Rent increases after improvements/renovation
  • Rent decreases due to defective maintenance
  • Rent decreases under the rent points system
  • Annual settlements of service charges
  • Advances of service charges
  • Annual rent increases
  • The separation of all-in rent into a basic rent and service charges

Landlords can start proceedings on:

  • Maintenance defects that have been repaired
  • Rent increases after improvements/renovation
  • Annual settlements of service charges
  • Annual rent increases

Information about these proceedings is available on the website of the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie). The information is in Dutch only.

More information on the Rent Tribunal and its proceedings (partly in English)

For more information on the Rent Tribunal and its proceedings go to the huurcommissie.nl website. It is allowed to bring an interpreter or advisor to hearings of the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie).

Information and help can also be obtained from, for example, local huurteams, which can advise on rent levels (in e.g. Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague and Nijmegen) or the Juridisch Loket, which offers free legal advice to people on low incomes.