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Warning: Do not get trapped in housing scam, Do not transfer any money or pay in cash to landlord or broker. Fake owners are advertising non-existing properties or wrong properties and trying to trap people from abroad. They send fake contract and ask for a significant amount as rental deposit. Be aware – There are lot of scams via AirBnB.
Moving from one place to another place, or one house to another house can be very challenging & stressful. Recently, OFBJP has received concerns regarding housing scam, contract/owner/security deposit related complaints etc. Considering these factors, Priyanka Singh Ji, Ratheesh Venugopal Ji, Tirumal Naidu Ji and Surendra Garjala Ji have tried to summarize few do’s and don’ts points for new tenants.
Checklist of Do’s and Don’t for abroad-based tenants:
1. You have a video calls with owner and ask him to show the property.
2. Verify the property from friend/future colleague or close contact (living in the Netherlands), if they can verify the property existence and details provided by owner.
3. Sign a contract with the landlord including all terms and conditions. You can ask for landlord identity proof which you can verify.
4. Do Not transfer money/ hand over cash before you have done your verification and have signed the contract.
Checklist of Do’s and Don’t before signing contract:
1. The housing contracts are often in Dutch. Do not just rely on Google translate. Request your owner/housing agency to provide you English version of the housing contract or make sure you/ Owner get it translated by translation services or ask help from your Dutch colleague/friends. The owner is obliged to ensure you sign a contract in the language you understand.
2. Read the contract carefully and if there is any questions/clarifications, do not ignore/hesitate, just make it clear in writing from housing agency or landlord before signing the contract.
3. Do not forget to discuss, repairing related questions (expenses bearing, time period, deposit return etc).
4. Discuss ‘Rental Termination’ in details; this will help if you have to move out suddenly due to unforeseen situations (leaving country, Job changes etc). It is common practice that many employees from Indian consulting companies asks for a Diplomatic clause with one month notice to terminate the contract. Have a clear agreement when checkout is done then deposit needs to be returned and only after receipt of deposit the keys will be handed over.
5. Do not forget to discuss consequence of standard wear and tear (including definition of wear and tear) and damages caused during and on exit. How, by whom and within what time periods repair can be done (expected to be done in a normal situation). Some landlords delay the process and it can be annoying and you might feel like changing your current place but you will have certain contract period. Discuss such things well in advance and make a point if its not done, you are allowed to terminate the contract (currently happening in rare case). Make sure to include such clauses in the contract.
5. If you have specific requirements like family house for example, make sure your neighbours are also a family, especially people with children. It’s better to verify with Landlord or rental agency about child friendly surroundings and get this in writing.
6. Discuss in detail about the refund of deposit amount on termination of the contract. Try to ensure it is mentioned in your contract.
7. There is possibility to add a third person (a friend or colleague) in the contract who can represent you in cases when you have to leave the country with short notice. This can be handy especially when there is a follow up needed to get back the deposit.
8. Make sure the landlord is in agreement to your special needs and occasions like allowing pets, having parties for occasions, and timelines for using music for festivals etc.
9. It is better to be sure about the accountability of maintenance and damages with clarity on issues. For example, some landlords will agree to fix major maintenance like water system breakage but for some minor issues like water blocking, tenant will be responsible. Lets list out and clear these.
10. Some lease agreements do not specify about the parking fee and some wants to charge this as extra if parking is included in the basement of your building for example. Do consider talking about these and clarifying in agreement if free or charged.
11. Make sure your rental agreement includes following clauses:
a) *Settlement Period* – i.e The time when the deposit can be returned ( example – within 30 days of leaving/ vacating the house). This is to ensure timely settlement of deposit amount.
b) *Joint Inspection* at time of exit – example The owner and the tenant should fix a mutually convenient time to conduct joint inspection of house at the time of exit. During this inspection tenant should ensure to take account and record all expenses ( if any) and jointly prepare a detailed checkout report should which is signed by both parties.
c) *Penalty Clause* – There should be a penalty clause if the owner refuses to transfer deposit on time after vacating the property. Example – For each day of delay, the owner will pay 50 euros (or define this amount as applicable).
Checklist of Do’s and Don’t after you have signed the contract & Moved in?
1. First things first, take a lot of pictures of every corner of house, Share these pictures with landlord and get confirmation from them in writing on agreement with pictures. If something needs to be done or you notice something strange, record it in writing to the landlord immediately (Preferably in first 2 days after moving in and maximum of first 5 days, always maintain an email conversation so its written and can be used as document of evidence if needed).
2. Make a list of the household stuff, furniture, electronic equipment’ (if possible with picture) and their conditions. If you see something are not up-to the mark, or in proper condition, notify this to the landlord and get it fixed. Better try to do it electronically, so that you always have evidence, if something can go wrong in the future (eg: while terminating contract)
3. Take a good care of the house. Often the houses are returned in the condition you have got it. Make sure about drilling the wall etc. Some landlords don’t like too-much drilling or drilling may be prohibited on certain wall due to its internal structure or safety reasons. Make a contact list(including phone numbers) of all kinds of repair system (you can take help from your landlord/friends).
4. Before check out make a check out report which records proper handover of apartment/ house.
5. Tenants are entitled to more power than Landlords or rental agency. Example, a problematic landlord causing troubles with additional bills, asking you to vacate earlier than the desired contract date etc. Know all the rights as a Tenant you have. Links – https://www.wooninfo.nl/english/ ; https://www.iamexpat.nl/housing/netherlands-rentals/rental-contracts-housing-rights
As Indian’s we use more oil, spices and cook variety of exotic dishes. The amount of oil or fat can block the drainage pipes underneath the kitchen sink. Better have measures like,
6. Use of exhaust system to let the strong smell out 2. Not let Chunks of food or waste drain through and separate them before washing the dishes (Plumbers can be very expensive).
7. Learn some basics about heating system (a friendly landlord may help here too). Sometimes, you can fix it yourself by just restarting or so.
8. Dutch nationals rely on lot of insurances. Maintenance cost is very expensive and labor cost tops the list. Most Dutch people try to repair things by themselves. If possible try to take few insurances, such as third-party liability insurance (If you cause some damage to someone else’s property), House insurance (if some damage happens in your house).
9. Sometimes it is recommended to take legal insurance. This legal insurance helps you when you end up in any unfortunate situation (then you might need to take legal helps). This can save a lot of money. Taking insurance varies person to person.
10. Do some research and see if you need any of the above insurances and which one fits your personal situation and circumstances.
11. The check out report should contain clarity on condition – good , ok etc.
12. All damages if any should be clearly described in check out report.
13. The check out report should clearly have concluding remarks stating ” No replacement of items only cleaning “
14. In case any expenses such as cleaning or replacement of any item it should be recorded in check out report.
15. If cost of replacement / damage is not known it should be mentioned that owner will seek consent of tenant prior to incurring any cost to avoid surprises.
Checklist of Do’s and Don’t if things are not going in the right direction with your housing?
1. Firstly, try to discuss things with landlord (as soon as possible) and sort-it-out amicably (best approach). Always electronically document major discussions, repair, incidences with landlord (it is standard practice)
2. The housing corporation ( https://www.aedes.nl/ ) or Gemeente (the municipality) or Expat center Amsterdam can also be helpful to resolve any dispute.
3. Inform your Human Resource Department/Employer of such experiences.
4.Contact Juridisch loket for free legal advice (not all the time they are helpful but can help in some situations). Here is the link: https://www.juridischloket.nl/5. If you decided to take legal action, a legal insurance can be useful.
5. For any clarification or extra guidance on the do’s and don’t or in case of any dispute or need for amicable mediation, you can always contact OFBJP Netherlands, a non-profit organization for any help.
Some Important websites:
Link to check type of housing in Netherlands:
For students housing: https://www.studyinholland.nl/prepare/housing
Insurance/services comparisons: https://www.independer.nl/
Some other expat related queries:
Reference Websites for Renting Houses: