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  • David VanAssche

Navigating the Dutch Rental Market: A Guide for US Expats Under the DAFT Visa

Moving to the Netherlands under the Dutch-American Friendship Treaty (DAFT) visa presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges, especially when it comes to finding a place to call home. As a US expat, understanding the Dutch rental market can be overwhelming. This guide aims to simplify this process, highlighting key hurdles you might face and offering practical advice to overcome them.

Understanding the Rental Market: The Dutch housing market, particularly in cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam, is highly competitive. Properties can be rented out within days, sometimes hours, of being listed. As a DAFT visa holder, you’ll find that the quick pace of the market is your first challenge.

Typical Lease Terms: Leases in the Netherlands typically range from one to two years, with both furnished and unfurnished options available. Furnished apartments may be more suitable for expats who haven't shipped their belongings, but they often come with a higher rental price. Due to changes in Dutch Landlord laws, it's uncommon (call it nonexistent now) to find a rental that exceeds two years. Once a tenant stays over 24 months, this prohibits a landlord from raising rent to market rates and makes it nearly impossible to remove a tenant. You'll have to find a new place to rent or buy a home, after two years.

Security Deposits and Tenant Rights: Expect to pay a security deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent. It's crucial to understand your rights as a tenant. The Netherlands offers strong tenant protection laws, ensuring your security and rights in the property.

The Role of 'Huurcommissie': In disputes regarding quality, maintenance, or rent price, the 'huurcommissie' (rental committee) plays a vital role. They act as a mediator and decision-maker, ensuring fairness for both tenants and landlords.

Hurdles for US Expats:

  • Credit History and Guarantors: The Dutch rental system may not recognize your US credit history. Landlords may require a local guarantor or ask for a higher deposit.

  • Income Proof: As DAFT visa holders are self-employed, proving a stable income can be challenging. Some landlords may be hesitant to rent to new business owners without a steady Dutch income history. This can usually be overcome by offering to pay 6+ months of rent in advance to minimize a landlord's perceived risk in renting to you.

  • Language Barrier: While many Dutch people (especially in the business world) speak English, rental agreements are typically in Dutch. Misunderstandings in legal terms can lead to complications. Professional guidance on the terms are critical. Unlike in the USA where many rental contracts are on standardized forms in a particular city or area - rental agreements are written by different real estate agent offices and their attorneys. They are all different and require close examination.

Finding a Rental Property:

  • Start Early: Begin your search online before moving. Our team can assist with this by getting you access to web portals and bringing "off market" properties to your attention as we learn about them from our connections and relationships.

  • Hire a Real Estate Agent: We can navigate the market, negotiate terms, and ensure the contract is fair and legal. Our extensive relationships with other agents, especially in the expat world, allows us to know about available properties before they are ever listed on a web portal.

  • Explore Different Areas: Everyone's situation is different - however broadening your search beyond the major "Randstad" cities will make it much easier (and more affordable) to secure housing. This may however result in using a car if you are living outside your target area.

Making Your Application Stand Out:

  • Prepare a rental CV, highlighting your reliability and financial stability. (We assist with this)

  • Provide a cover letter explaining your situation as a DAFT visa holder and your business plans. (We assist with this and properly communicate it to the listing agents and landlords)

  • Write a "Love Letter". Make yourself stand out among a pile of soulless applications. This is exceptionally helpful when the landlord is an old-school owner vs. an institutionalized property management company.

  • Offer references from previous landlords or a letter of recommendation from your visa attorney. The more professional and responsible we can make you on paper - the more likely we will find the best property for you. Book a Call with us to discuss your move.

Closing Tips:

  • Be prepared to act fast when you find a suitable property. Unfortunately "sleeping on it" = not getting the property. The most desirable homes and apartments go very fast in Amsterdam, Leiden, The Hague, Rotterdam etc.

  • Always read and understand the lease agreement before signing.

  • Budget for upfront costs such as the first month's rent, security deposit, and professional real estate agent fees. Consider that some landlords might expect 3-6+ months in advance rent if there is no local income.

Conclusion: Finding a suitable rental as a US expat in the Netherlands under the DAFT visa can be daunting, but with the right preparation and understanding of the market, it’s entirely achievable. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey.

Call to Action: Struggling to find your perfect Dutch home? Let us help. Click here to book a consultation with our expert team and make your relocation smooth and stress-free.

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