Over the past few months the sales market for properties has gone up tremendously. This has a direct effect on the rental market. Many of the houses that are now being sold, were rented out in the past couple of years because owners were not able to sell. Less houses are now left on the rental market with prices going up.
All the more reason to come prepared when looking for a rental house. You might be one of the many people in line to rent the place of your liking. What can you do in preparation to enhance your opportunities?
First of all, make a choice between furnished (gemeubileerd) or unfurnished (ongemeubileerd). In the Netherlands in general rental houses and apartments are unfurnished. This means there is absolutely nothing but the walls of the house, the kitchen and the bathroom. No Curtains, no appliances in the kitchen, no floor covering etc.
You might come across the term “gestoffeerd”. This means something like soft-furnished. In this case the walls and floor have coverings, curtains and lights. You would still need to take care of your own furniture. “Semi-gemeubileerd” means something similar. You would have to ask the owner what it implies exactly. There will be furniture, you just don’t know what.
Big chance you are an expat who came to the Netherlands with the plan of staying less than a couple of years. For you it is obviously too time-consuming and expensive to decorate your temporary place from A to Z.
Renting a fully furnished place is your best option. You will find bed sheets, pots and pans, TV, DVD player, a washing machine/dryer and towels. In case you want a certain piece of furniture in or out, negotiate before the contract is signed. Ideally there is an inventory list available enclosed with the contract, so there will be no argument about what was or wasn’t there at the time of moving in.
This already divides the rental housing market. Furnished apartments are almost always for expats because practically everyone in the Netherlands would want to take their own furniture.
There is another reason for the division of the housing market. Half of the country’s housing belongs to housing corporations. They have the task of ensuring affordable housing for low income residents. Affordable in this case means rent below € 700. Qualified as low income residents are those who earn no more than € 34.229 a year. When you fall into that category and apply, there is a waiting list. In cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht this can go up to 10 years. So even if you are an expat with an income no more than € 34.229, you wouldn’t have the time to wait for your turn. This automatically sends you straight to the free housing sector.
In the free sector rental prices will more likely be over a € 1000 than anywhere near € 700. A shortage of houses means there is a large gap between the cheap and expensive sector. This shortage makes newcomers vulnerable to scams.
The best protection is to come prepared. Keep on informing yourself. Read articles, talk to people. And certainly when you don’t have much time on your hands, hire a good local trustworthy housing agent to help you out.