Ask Me Anything: IWCN’s housing service providers answer your questions!
Getting to know how to navigate the housing market in your own country is already difficult enough, so discovering all the necessary information on finding housing after emigrating can be a big task.
Luckily, here at IWCN, we have close ties with several brokers in the north of the Netherlands: our service providers Anne Brunninkhuis from Van Der Meulen Makelaars, Martin Hammega from AnderZ Makelaars, and IQ Makelaars/123wonen.
So to make it a bit easier for you, we asked them some questions submitted by our Instagram followers about everything they want to know about housing.
We shared the highlights on our Instagram Stories, but there’s more to every question and answer, so let’s dig in!
Question 1: Is it normal to have to pay triple the month’s rent as a deposit?
Van Der Meulen: The deposit for a house is between one and triple times the rental price. This depends on whether the house is furnished or unfurnished, whether there are special circumstances like bringing a pet and depending on the financial security from the tenant.
IQ: No! Normally it’s one month’s rent. If landlords insists on a higher deposit, this is because they have had some troubles in the past, or sometimes a suitable candidate doesn’t meet the income requirement. We use it to offer to a landlord if the income “on paper” is not steady but rent is payable.
AnderZ: No, that is still uncommon though not illegal. It is more and more becoming a standard, but it can – by Dutch law- not exceed 3 months. A security deposit gives the landlord assurance that he will not be left with unpaid rent at the end of the lease. Or with costs for repairing damage to the property caused by the tenant. Because the landlord may use (part of the) security deposit to compensate for unpaid rent or damage caused by you.
It is also possible that the tenant has not left the property tidy or as agreed. And that the landlord then has to make costs to make the house tidy for the next tenant. In that case, the landlord may deduct his expenses incurred from the security deposit before refunding it. But note: this does not apply to ordinary wear and tear and damage resulting from poor maintenance in which he himself has been negligent.
Excessive deposit: refuse or go to court
If the landlord asks for an excessive deposit, you can do 2 things:
- You can refuse to pay the deposit. Then keep in mind that you will not get the house.
- Or you can pay the security deposit and afterwards ask the court to lower the deposit. If the judge reduces the security deposit, the landlord must repay what you overpaid.
Question 2: How do I know I’m being overcharged?
Van Der Meulen: This depends on the house you are looking for. If this is a social house the rental price has a maximum, allied to the number of points from the system. If it is a house in the free market, the landlord or agency can ask any rental price depending on the circumstances in the market.
- Ask your broker
- Compare with other houses, and not only the one that stays available. But sign in at some big housing sites for new offers, like pararius.nl, Funda.nl, 123Wonen.nl
AnderZ: There is no certain way of knowing, but you can consider hiring a professional. Always look for reviews and also credentials. A formal business has access to main websites like Funda and Pararius, and real estate agents all have to be registered at VastgoedPRO, VBO or NVM
Question 3: Are there saving programs with tax benefits for purchasing a house, like the BSU in Norway?
IQ: Yes! In The Netherlands the interest that is paid for the mortgage is deductible (partly) from taxes.
AnderZ: BSU is Starterslening in Groningen.
For the city of Groningen I could not find specific info.
People under 35 years of age do not have to pay Property Purchase tax (stamp duty).
Question 4: How can an expat purchase a house?
IQ: Same as a non-expat! Banks like expats with a job on a high level. It’s smart to contact a local agency with a lot of knowledge about the housing market in Groningen. Before you contact them, you can do a bit of research about the different areas in Groningen where you would like to live.
AnderZ: Main housing website is www.funda.nl other websites like huispedia.nl could give some statistics.
In principle you can buy a house yourself, but be aware that communication with realtors is hard since most people at the desk are not skilled in English so when a lot of people respond to a certain house, you can experience you are being ignored. If you come from a “red flag” country like China brokers are -by law- obligated to do extensive research and some choose to skip that.
Best option is to ask around, check LinkedIn and also review brokers websites to see if they present information in English. Again, look for reviews, look for branch office connection (VastgoedPro, VBO, NVM)
Question 5: Is subletting actually allowed? If so, why can’t we register at municipality?
Van Der Meulen: Depends on whether it is a full house or just a room. In most rental contracts it is mentioned whether subletting is allowed or not. There is a maximum number of people who can be registered at an address, since it is not allowed to rent out a house to an indefinite number of people.
IQ: At 123Wonen, subletting is not allowed in general unless the landlord is okay with it.
Renting out the house you own (sometimes also referred to as subletting) is mostly possible but depending on your mortgage (bank).
AnderZ: No, that is not allowed unless you agree upon it with your landlord. Suppose you rent a home and you have to go abroad for a year but want to turn back into your house, you might get permission.
Without permission you are acting illegally, and eviction is possible. Also remember then when subletting – even with permission – you will remain responsible, liable, and accountable. So, if the subletter does not pay, you will have to. If the subletter breaks anything, you pay for it.
You cannot rent for a higher amount. So, if you pay 1,000, you cannot sublet for 1,100.
Question 6: I don’t earn enough to buy in the Netherlands, but how do I know if I’m eligible for social welfare housing and where can I sign up for that?
IQ: At the moment, the waiting lists for social housing are long, due in part to housing that’s made available for refugees (statushouders). You can calculate if you’re eligible for social housing. If so, then you need to sign up for social housing corporations like Nijestee, Lefier or Patrimonium.
AnderZ: You have to search and sign up at a housing corporation. Groningen has 3 main: Lefier Patrimonium and Nijestee. Some smaller Like Wold en waard. Here is some information in Dutch about social housing.
Question 7: Where do I even start when I want to buy a house in Groningen?
IQ: Talk to an agent that can help you. Make a list of must haves for your house… and a list of wannahaves for your house. Sign in at Funda.nl (biggest platform for buying a house in the Netherlands) so you are informed about new offers. Save the offers you like in the Funda-system. So you know what offers to expect. Arrange some viewings to experience the houses and update your wishlist if necessary!
AnderZ: First you contact a mortgage person to see what your financial options are. Then you can start your search on Funda.nl (free account, push notifications). Third the advice is to hire an expert to save you time, money and legal trouble.
Question 8: Is there a place where can I find rooms or apartments for rent that aren’t full of huisjesmelkers and scams?
Van Der Meulen: Find a house on reliable websites like Pararius.nl or Funda.nl. On a reliable website, you don’t have to pay to register (because the agency pays to advertise the house).
IQ: Pararius.nl, Funda.nl, 123Wonen.nl
AnderZ: Scammers can scam people because they are so very smart. Always ask around in person or Facebook Groups. Check reviews (a lot of troublesome rental agencies have lots of negative comments). When checking a place you can see the maintenance. The bad landlords mostly do not perform maintenance. Via www.huurcommissie.nl you can calculate the legal rental price which is currently dictated by law up to 800 (will be 1,200) if you already rent you can contact agencies like Frently
Question 9: I’m planning on moving to the Netherlands next year and I want to rent, so how far ahead should I start looking? Can I house hunt from abroad?
Van Der Meulen: Finding a house from abroad is possible, you can have an online viewing (by Skype or WhatsApp for example) and you can sign the rental contract on your computer. It’s best to look between 1 and 3 months upfront, or send the estate agency an email with your requirements so they can look out for new offers. As an estate agency it’s not always possible to know what houses will be available many months upfront (since tenants do have a calendar month notice).
IQ: Most houses are on the market just 1 month before availability. This is because legally the tenants have to give notice one month before leaving. So best timing to find your new home is around the first of the month prior to the start of the rental. In some cases, you are able to succeed earlier. At 123Wonen we generally advise you to start looking 3 months in advance.
Yes, you can rent from abroad so you can move in the new home upon arrival. We arrange viewings through Skype, Facetime etc. so you are there with us and ask questions. We can also help with a short stay rent for some months and you can find a more permanent housing solution from there.
AnderZ: Downside of renting is that people do not understand you can cancel 6 months in advance, but no less than 1 calendar month. Most people cancel in the last month, so it is hard to find anything in the near future. Also, most agencies want you to visit in person. Sometimes a paid professional could do video viewings for you.
Question 10: Why isn’t there student housing provided by universities?
AnderZ: It is, but there are way less rooms than accepted students. Each year students have big trouble finding anything in Groningen.
Question 11: Can (foreign) students sign up for social housing?
IQ: SSH is active in Groningen, and you can apply at SSH Groningen.