Renting in The Netherlands : why do finding an accommodation has to be so hard ?

Finding an accommodation in The Netherlands can be an absolute nightmare. If you are an expat in The Netherlands, you already know the trouble of finding a decent room or flat to rent in one of the most overcrowded countries in Europe. Dutchies even say that there are more people looking for accommodations than there are flats available…

Finding a nice place to live in is one of the requirements if you want to settle down as an expat. Whether you live, or are planning to move, in Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, or any other Dutch city, you will encounter the same problems.

If you are a new expat in The Netherlands, do not worry : you are not the problem, and it does not only happen to you. Spending days and nights on Funda, Pararius, expat websites, Facebook, always wondering if you are going to sleep under a nice bridge at the end of the month : we’ve all been there. Well, worrying. Not under the bridge.

Where do you easily find an accommodation in Holland ? How do you avoid paying agencies fees ? How do you recognize a scam when you see one ?

First of all, you don’t necessarily need to go through an agency for an accommodation. There are other ways, and some of them I tried myself. I’m not always rambling, sometimes, I actually know what I am talking about. Sometimes…

Renting a house via a Facebook group

Facebook do serve a purpose other than keeping in touch with your friends and family. Facebook groups for accommodation are so numerous in The Netherlands that it really gives you every reason to try your luck out there !

Facebook groups for accommodations are usually organised by cities, and you can find several ones in one place. Sign up to all of them, and check the pages daily as ad for rooms and flats are being posted on these all day long. It does work, as I myself found my very first studio in Holland like this.

But of course, there are a few things you should look for. First of all, you should obviously always refuse to pay anything before you get the keys, or you get to visit the flat, and not even before you move in. There are a lot of scams out there. Some are obvious (« I can post you the keys to your doorstep if you pay me two months rent now »), but some are not. For example, I have heard stories of people visiting a flat, taking the flat, paying for the flat and arriving at the door only to find out that the keys they were given are not working. Yep. Bummer.

You should also make sure that you are actually allowed there. If you are arriving in the country, you will need an address to be able to register with the town hall and, well, start your new life. But some « landlords » do not accept registration in their flats. That usually happens when they are not allowed to rent, or in case of subletting a room. If you are planning on staying in the country, I would definitely recommend to find a place to live where you can also register (and have a proper contract etc.).

Marktplaats, where you will find… everything and anything you want

Marktplaats is a Dutch website where you can literally find anything : both companies and private citizens can use it, as a customer or a seller. You can find your next car, birthday toys for your neighbour’s kids, Saturday night clothing and, evidently, accommodations.

Most of the accommodation on this are actually from private companies, or agencies. But if you are lucky (like I was), you can find a private landlord who cannot be bothered going through the struggle and the costs of an agency. Bare in mind though that you might still have to pay two months deposit (where agencies are not legally allowed to ask for a payment of the rent anymore).

As usual, look out for scams. But Marktplaats is a good way of finding accommodations from private landlords directly.

Unfortunately, the website is only in Dutch. But don’t worry, even if you suck in Dutch as much as I do, you can still manage to make your way through.

Cannot avoid going through an agency ?

Facebook and Marktplaats do not always do the trick ; sometimes, you do have to go through an agency to find a decent accommodation for you and your family.

Requirements from agencies can be very tough. Some of them ask for future landlords that earn minimum 4.5 times the amount of the rent. I don’t want to be funny, but that’s a LOT. Earning 3 or 3.5 times the rent should be enough to allow you to cover the rent costs easily.

Another thing that you, little expat, should know, is that agencies are not allowed, legally, to ask you to pay them one month of the rent as a « fee » if they work on behalf of a landlord. Basically, they already make the landlord pay for the advertisement etc., so they are not allowed to make you pay as well. What they can ask you though is a contract fee, of up to 20% the costs of one month rent.

However, if the landlord is the agency (some agencies own properties), then it that case you will have to pay them directly of course. Just make sure to check which situation you are in first.

If the agency, acting on behalf of the landlord, still make you pay or they will « give the flat to someone else », you are also allowed to send them a letter by post to get your money back.

You know of other tricks to find an accommodation in The Netherlands ? Leave a comment and share the love knowledge !

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