Finding the right kind of accommodation is imperative to ensuring that your stay here in Rotterdam is as comfortable as possible. If you start your search early enough finding the right place shouldn’t be a problem. This is something that you should do as soon as you find out that you have been accepted into your Educational Insitute of choice.
Apartment contracts can be “inclusive” – which means rent payment cover utilities like electricity, water and sometimes even internet. When a contract is “exclusive” – it means that rent does not cover any other utilities. In this case, you should add between 70 – 90 Euros a month for utilities. Additionally you will probably have to pay taxes as well which are garbage collection and water, we talk you through those costs below and how to get tax remissions below if needed. Ensure you ask your landlord who is paying this costs before you sign a contract.
If you find an apartment, make sure you can register yourself in the municipality (“Gemeente”). If that’s not the case, you run the risk of being a sub-renter (“onderhuur”) meaning that someone is already renting the accommodation, and you will not be renting from the owner but from a renter. Without the explicit consent of the apartment owner this is not possible as it is illegal in the Netherlands. You might find yourself and all your stuff locked out of the apartment without anyone to complain to. So make sure you do everything legitimately.
You can try to find housing through your school, through an agency, a website, an independent landlord or as the Dutch say – randomly, through friends, strangers or simply by asking around. You will be surprised how many apartment ads run in Facebook groups, on information boards, and just through a guy that knows a guy.
The renting culture in the Netherlands is very well established. Generally speaking, the law protects you as a renter extensively and if you have any issues, you can get free government help with institutions such as the “Huurcommissie”. Timing is very important, because usually there are no waiting lists for places, so if you reply to ads on time, you improve your chances. Everything is very time oriented in the Netherlands, so try not to be late.. anywhere! This time important culture also means that your entry and exit dates into your apartment are fixed, so moving those will require some negotiation. Another thing is that not all apartments come furnished. This is exactly why second hand markets (maarktplaats.nl or Comodity Market Rotterdam on facebook) will come in very useful. And finally, if you get any discounts or special offers because you are a student, you will need to have proof otherwise you will be in breach of the contract and will be asked to leave. We know it might be overwhelming, but you will find your dream house! Just keep in mind some safety rules before you start looking for a place to rent:
If you’re looking for housing privately or through an agency, make sure that you ask a lot of questions about the apartment. You are easy prey for scammers, or even just for unpleasant people that will not accommodate you like they would a local. A very well known scam is an advertisement on a website with “an abroad” landlord. Once you contact the landlord, he or she tells you that they are abroad, and the only way for you to see the apartment is if they send you a key per post. But that, of course, comes at a price – you need to send a deposit so they can trust you. This sounds like a silly scam, but it works because when the apartment is cheap and the location is great. This should immediately trigger a warning sign: you should always be able to visit the apartment or room you will be renting without problems. This is also important to make sure the contract you sign matches your apartment.
Don’t be shy and try to ask as many questions about the contract that you need to ensure that all the points are clear and verified. The Netherlands is a very contract-oriented country, and it is not considered rude to do so. Be smart about your rights and options, and ask many questions such as:
- Does the apartment come furnished or not?
- Are utilities included in the rent? If not, approximately how much do they cost per month? Are the taxes included?
- Can you use the address and rental agreement to register at the municipality? (This is very important since you need to register in order to receive your BSN!).
- Are there any extra fees, such as commission or a reservation fee? How much is it?
- How much is the deposit and what are the conditions of it being returned?
- How long will the contract last? Can you stay longer if you’d like?
- How long before do you need to inform your landlord if would like to extend your contract or break it earlier?
- What are the requirements of renting (as a student)? (What documents do you need? This includes copies of passports, proof of enrollment at your university, a letter of guarantee from your parents, a work contract and/or payslip, etc.)