Frequently Asked Questions

Everything you need to know about expat housing in the Netherlands.

What is Amsterdam like to live in?
Amsterdam is vibrant, (bike) friendly, international, big enough to be nice, but small enough to bike everywhere, affordable, young, ambitious and very social. A great city to live in for students, starters, professionals and families. Have a look at <our neighborhood guide> to learn more about the city or check sites like <yourlittleblackbook> or <iamsterdam> for more information about the city.
How many people, and expats, live in Amsterdam?
Currently Amsterdam inhabits about 834.000 people and 180 different nationailties. The number of expats is ever changing, but we're estimating it to be around 12% of the Amsterdam population.
Can I rent a home in Amsterdam?
Of course! The rental market is accessible for everybody who has the right to stay in the Netherlands. Whether through a permit, visa or residence.
How do people get around in Amsterdam?
They mainly use the bike. The city is so small that you can bike from one end to the other end of the city in about an hour and 15 minutes. The 2nd most popular means of transport is the tram and subway. Cars are used on occasion, but finding a parking spot can be quite a challenge.
What is typical Amsterdam / Dutch?
We are taking the liberty here to mix it up with some typical Dutch things. Let's start with stroopwaffels (caramel biscuits), canals, kingsday, bikes, steep and narrow stairs, the Rijksmuseum, cheese, the gay pride parade, Anne Frank House, bakfietsen (family bikes) and we could go on and on. Experience it for yourself or check out <what dutch people like> for more tips and customs of the Dutch.
What are the different neighbourhoods like in Amsterdam?
We've created a neighborhood guide with some more information about the different areas in Amsterdam. Have a look and if you'd like more information, feel free to reach out!
What is the rental market in Amsterdam like?
The Amsterdam rental market is made up of the social housing sector (60%) and the liberated housing sector (40%). The social housing sector is only accessible if you've been living and registered in Amsterdam for at least 10+ years. This leaves the liberated housing sector. Due to this divide, the supply doesn't always match the demand which creates a very dynamic and ever changing housing market. At the moment it is a landlords market for the lower budget apartments because there's more competition but it is a renters market for apartments above the €2.000 mark. Apartments can be on the market ranging from 2 working days for the popular low budget apartments to weeks and sometimes even months for the more high end ones.
How many apartments are available to rent in Amsterdam?
Both the municipality and project developers are constantly building apartments in the market so at the time of writing this number has changed already. We estimate that currently there are around 20.000 apartments being rented out on a regular basis.
What are the rental prices in Amsterdam like?
Rental prices vary. Fopr a studio it can be approx €1,100 which don't come on the market very oftenn and for a 1 bedroom the average is €1,600 for furnished. Please note that most prices mentioned online are excluding utilities. Our neighborhood guide shows you the prices per area in Amsterdam.
What is a 'free sector' apartment?
A free sector apartment is an apartment that has passed the liberated rental threshold. The threshold is based on a point system and currently is 143 points. The size of the apartment, energy label, location, value, spaces and other things all stand for a certain amount of points. All points added up give the amount of points for the apartment. By passing the threshold the landlord is free to decide what the rental price of the apartment is.
What is a social housing apartment?
A social housing apartment is an apartment that has not passed the liberated rental threshold. The threshold is based on a point system and is currently 143 points. The size of the apartment, energy label, location, value, spaces and other things all stand for a certain amount of points. All points added up give the amount of points for the apartment. If the apartment doesn't pass the threshold it falls in the regulated sector. Which is also called the social housing sector. The current maximum base rental price of a regulated rental apartment is €710,68.
Am I eligible for a social housing apartment?
Most of the social housing apartments (regulated rentals) are managed by corporations who have long waiting lists. You have to be registered in Amsterdam for at least 10 years to be eligible for an apartment like this. Some landlords rent out their homes which are regulated rental apartments as well, so there's a small chance you might stumble upon one.
How long will it take me on average to be successfully housed in an apartment in Amsterdam?
Depending on your criteria you can find an apartment between 1-3 weeks in the city. Most apartments come on the market 4-6 weeks before they're available so don't start the search too early.
What is a diplomatic clause?
A diplomatic clause was initialy used for landlords who were looking to return to their homes after a period of letting their home. Now it is also being put in rental contracts to give tenants the option to terminate the lease prematurely. Most diplomatic clauses will mention that the tenant can only terminate when he or she is fired, resigns or is relocated 75km from their current working location.
Can I terminate my contract after 6 months?
If you have a temporary contract up to 2 years you have the right to terminate your lease with one calenders months notice. Please make sure that you have confirmed that your lease contract is a temporary contract.
Can the landlord increase the rent without limits?
Most contracts link the rental increase or also called 'price indexing' to the CPI (cost price index) which is the inflation ratio of the country. This means that your rent can be increased by a small percentage p/month. The contract does have to specify that the rent can be increased on a yearly basis in order for the landlord to do so.
What is the difference between a temporary and permanent contract?
The difference between a temporary contract and an indefinite contract is the end date. Temporary contracts have a specified end date whereas indefinite contracts have not. After the temporary contract ends, action is required from the landlord in order to extend the lease. If a temporary contract gets extended, it will automatically turn into an indefinite contract. An indefinite contract does not end unless the tenant terminates. With an indefinite contract, the landlord does have the right to set a minimum term. During this minimum period the tenant cannot terminate the lease.
Can I terminate my temporary contract?
If your temporary contract is up to 2 years you have the right to terminate with one month’s notice.
Is there a limit to how many people I can share my apartment with?
The municipality does link the size to the amount of people living in a home but doesn't regulate this very much. They have, however, instated a rule that requires landlords to have a permit when they're looking to rent out their apartments to more than 2 people.
What is a contract under the 'leegstandswet'?
A landlord can apply for a permit to rent out his home under the 'leegstandswet'. This permit gives the landlord the right to rent out their home without the tenant building up tenant rights. The end date is therefore a set end date and the landlord can extend a temporary contract without it become an indefinite contract. There is a limit of 5 years that a landlord can rent using this type of contract and generally sells his apartment after this period.
Do all lease contracts have to be signed in Dutch?
In most cases landlords and or their agents will require you to sign a Dutch contract. An English translation is generally given, but not in all cases.
When is an agreement binding?
If an offer in writing is specified (price, start date, terms etc.) and is accepted by the receiving party both parties have come to an agreement that is legally binding, this includes agreements made via email. Verbal agreements are not binding.
Do I have to pay municipality taxes?
When you register your address with the municipality you will be charged municipality taxes. Municipality taxes are taxes for the usage of the public systems like the sewage, water, drainage, garbage systems. There's two different categories. The single household category which adds up to €477 p/year and the multiple person household which is about €680 p/year.
Can the landlord access the apartment without my permission?
No, he can't. As soon as you move in you have tenant rights. The landlord has to request permission from you to access the apartment.
Can the landlord evict me?
No. Again you have rights as a tenant. Landlords can't simply terminate a rental contract with you unless it expires or you're breaking the contract yourself.
What happens to my deposit after the lease term?
The landlord will return it to you after the check out minus any costs for repairs or damages. The payment term depends on what is agreed on in the contract.
Who pays for maintenance of an apartment? The landlord or the tenant?
Depending on the terms and conditions that you have signed for, you have responsibilities as a tenant. Minor repairs will be your responsibility whereas major repairs are the responsibility of the landlord.
Will EHN set up my gas, electricity and water bills for me?
After the key handover we will help you set up utilities like internet, gas, electricity and water.
Will EHN set up my city tax payments for me?
This is something that we unfortunately can't do. As soon as you register at the municipality you will automatically enter the system that manages this. You will receive mail (the green envelope) regarding this.
Does EHN help with renting out properties?
We are always looking for new homes that we can present to our clients. Our business focuses on finding properties for our current clients, so we won't proactively help you rent out your home. We do however share new apartments with our clients to see if there's a match. Therefore feel free to send us your photos and description.
What do I need to earn to rent an apartment?
Some landlords require a gross salary minimum of 3 - 4 times the monthly rent. In case you don't have this, proof of savings or a guarantee is sometimes sufficient.
Where can I find apartments? and are the two best search engines for rental properties. Have a look at our House Hunting Handbook for more information on where to find apartments.
What does "including" and "excluding" mean?
When talking about including and excluding we're talking about the costs for utilities. Most apartments you will find online are offered excluding utilities unless specifically mentioned.
What does shell/unfurnished/semi-furnished/furnished mean?
A shell is an apartment without a floor and sometimes essential kitchen equipment. Unfurnished means there's a floor and kitchen in the apartment. Semi-furnished is an unfurnished apartment with very basic furniture (like a sofa and bed), please note that this option is very uncommon. Furnished means you only have to bring your suitcase because it's fully furnished and equipped.
Is there a minimum rental period?
A minimum rental period can only apply in an indefinite contract and is under the landlord’s discretion.
How much on average will gas, water, and electricity bills amount to?
Depending on how big your apartment is and how much water, energy, and gas you're using, utility expenses will add up to €150 - 210 per month. On average you'll pay the following amounts for internet (€30 - €60); water (€10 - €20); gas (€50 - €80); and electricity (€30 - €50).
What are the estimated costs of city taxes per year in Amsterdam?
For a single person household you will be charged about €477 per year for municipality taxes. For a multiple person household you'll pay around €680 p/year.
Will I incur extra costs if renting a furnished apartment, in comparison to an unfurnished apartment?
The difference in price depends on how luxurious the furniture is. Take into account that you'll spend around a €100 - €300 extra for a furnished apartment.
How much will a landlord most commonly ask for a deposit?
The deposit can range from 1 months for an unfurnished apartment to 2 months for a furnished apartment. In case you don't meet some other criteria from the landlord they can charge up to 3 months. Please note that deposits can be negotiable.
How does the process of extending my rental contract, after the first year of a rental, work?
If you would like to extend your rental contract first check if you have signed for a temporary or indefinite contract. In case of the latter you don't need to do anything, if no party terminates it will run until the tenant terminates the contract. In case of a temporary contract you should inform the landlord that you would like to stay longer. Please do this at least one month before the expiration of your lease contract. Together with the landlord you can then decide to continue the lease.
Are my landlord’s furnishings already insured against theft/damage?
The landlord is responsible for taking out insurance of his own goods (content), and the house (fire & theft). You are responsible to take out content insurance for your own belongings.
Can I offer a 'bank guarantee' instead of a deposit? And how does it work?
Most landlords request a cash deposit, though you can always ask if they are ok with a bank guarantee. A bank guarantee is used with some bigger real estate owners and project developers, so it is not unheard of.
What do the terms lessor and lessee mean?
Lessor stands for Landlord where Lessee means Tenant.
What will I need to bring for a contract signing?
Sometimes agents require a copy of your passport, a screenshot of the payment of the rent and deposit.
Is it possible to delay payment of the deposit? Or to pay the deposit in instalments?
Most of the time the agent/landlord requires the deposit to be paid in full before the lease starts. This is something you can always request though in case you're having trouble with getting the total amount ready before the lease.
What is a mortgage?
A Mortgage is a long term loan borrowed from a mortgage provider (a bank or pension fund), this is used to make payments on a property. You will pay off the mortgage (plus interest) in monthly instalments. Make sure you keep up with your mortgage repayments, otherwise the mortgage lender has the option of taking possession of the property and selling it on an execution sale.
What different types of mortgages are there?
In the Netherlands we have two main mortgages, the Annuity mortgage and Linear mortgage. With the Annuity mortgage, if you have a fixed interest on the loan, your repayments will remain the same, but the ratio of interest to capital changes. With the Annuity mortgage, if you have a fixed interest on the loan, your repayments will remain the same, but the ratio of interest to capital changes.
How much can I borrow?
As a rule of thumb you can calculate max 5 times your gross annual income, however this is dependent on several factors, if you have other financial commitments and loans, they will consider this into your calculation. The bank also wants to know what the property value is before offering you the loan, to ensure you don’t over borrow. In 2018 they will lend to a limit of 100% of the property value. This number will go down by 1% per year for the next 4 years.
What are the interest rates at the moment?
The interest rates differ with the type of mortgage you are acquiring. Your mortgage broker will know more about the different types of rates, though as of time of writing (May 2018) the mortgages rates vary between 2,5% - 3,5%.
How much money will we need to have saved upfront?
You will need to bring up to approximately 6% of the value of the house (for the buyers costs) - but of course it helps with your personal profile during the offer stage if you have further capital saved! As a part of our service, we can put you in touch with a mortgage partner who will be able to tell you more about what you will be able to borrow, and give you a better idea of your position in the market.
Are there certain times of year which are 'smarter' to buy?
We see spikes and dips in the market in regard to months of the year, in terms of how busy the market is. We will help advise you in regard to navigating these during our intake stage.
Are the prices listed on Funda the 'final prices'?
No - the lisitng price on Funda is the offer price. What this means, is that that is the inital offering. In the current Amsterdam market, people overbid by fairly high amounts.
Is it ever possible to purchase a home for below the asking price?
However rare, it is indeed also possible to underbid. Your agent will look at the value of the property and base your offer on it instead of the offer price.
What are buyers costs?
Buyers cost consist of all the costs that are encurred in the process of securing a property. These costs can add up to 6% of your purchase price and consist of things like transfer tax (2%), notary costs, agency costs, cost for the valuator, surveyor and interpreter.
What will the exact process be when buying an apartment in Amsterdam?
First we will put you in touch with a mortgage broker, and mortgage adviser to make sure you know what you can borrow and spend on the market. The next step is the housing search. has most if not all properties that come on the market, so we will start the search together. We will schedule viewings based on your feedback and accompany you to them. When you have shown interest in a property we will do area and property research to advice you as best as possible. We will then draft the offer and help with the negotiations. After having your offer accepted we will arrange for a valuator, technical inspector and notary. We will accompany you to all meetings, review the contracts together, and make sure the property is handed over to you in a good condition.
Can we buy a house immediately after arriving in Amsterdam?
Yes you can. You need a dutch address and a secure job to apply for a mortgage. Buying a house can take a variable amount of time though. The time it takes to secure your home varies according to multiple factors such as the market at the time of your arrival - and of course your specific requirements, wishes, and personal financial situation. You will need a mortgage initially - and applying for this can take some weeks. The following processes after you have been granted your mortgage will take at least another few weeks. Surveyors, Notaries, Valuators and other services are involved. Working with these partners can take time, so we would reccomend at least securing a temporary housing contract for between 3 months - 1 year, to make sure that you give yourself ample room to breathe during the process.
Do I need to have a Dutch bank account to obtain a mortgage in Amsterdam?
You have to have a Dutch home address and pay taxes in the Netherlands, register at the city hall (Gemeente) and recieve a BSN number in order to open up a Dutch bank account. You will be unable to obtain a mortgage without a private address (not a temporary company address). Depending on how much you earn or if you have any debts, the mortgage provider will grant you a certain amount.
What are the extra costs I can expect when buying a home?
We advise you to keep in mind that you can expect extra costs of approximately 6% on op of the final sale price of your home. These are called the buyers costs and are explained above.
Once my offer/bid is accepted, will the landlord work with me exclusively? Is the home 'secured'?
Most likely, the landlord and agent will move forward with your offer. The deal however is only finalized once the provisional purchase contract has been signed (please note this is not the case if you buy a property through a company).
Will I be penalized for breaking a rental lease agreement early, when I purchase a home and no longer need to rent?
When looking to buy a home, we recommend obtaining a temporary rental apartment (with a fllexible 1 month notice period from the start date of the lease) first. As soon as you get a temporary or 'fixed term' contract, you can break the lease with just one calendar month of notice. This is the best option if you are looking to buy, as it gives you relative flexibility. Temporary contracts can be agreed for any period of time - for example 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or even 2 years. This model of contract also gives you flexibility in the event that you have an offer rejected, for example - or for example, if the renovation work you are pressing to complete before you move in to your new home is delayed. It is good to be aware that you will not be granted a mortgage whilst registered at a company address. If you have an initial period specified in your rental agreement (for example one year initial with the possibility to extend indefinitely thereafter), then you will recive a financial penalty for breaking the lease early. The penalties vary per lease agreement.
How can I tell if there is a serious issue with a house that I am considering purchasing?
For this very reason, we advise you to pay for a technical inspection of the house prior to purchase. We will set an appointment up with a trusted Dutch technical inspection firm. Some things are not visible to an untrained eye!
How can I find out the exact value of a property?
It is difficult to determine the exact value of a property according to its features and sqM. We will do our due diligence, look at properties sold in the past and can give you an indication of what the property is worth. We furthermore work with great partners who will take on the valuation process with care.
What does it mean when a notary does an investigation on the land registry?
The notary is involved in the legal process of the transaction and will therefore do research on several things before registering the mortgage deed and purchase/handover contract.
What happens if faults are found after the inspection?
The landlord is supposed to inform the purchaser about all errors that they know of in the property. If they are not aware they do not have to mention (for example if they are not living in the property). The landlord can be held liable for costs if it is something they should have made the purchaser aware of. There can be cases where it isn't clear/the owner can argue that they did not know and that the issue (such as a leak for example) developed between them leaving the property and the new purchasers moving in. In this case it's likely that the buyer is responsible for the costs.
What are the cities around amsterdam like for buying. Do the laws and regulations differ at all?
Rules for buying in different Dutch cities are very similar. We can aid you in the same manner whether you wish to bid on a home in Almere, Hoofdorp, Amsterdam, or Haarlem, to name a few examples.
What are the most competitive areas and price ranges in terms of buying a home?
In general, up to prices around €450,000.00, there is an extremely high level of competition and demand. Amsterdam is by far the most competative location. Haarlem and other up and coming areas in the AMA can prove slightly less competitive
Can I rent my property when it’s mortgaged?
You must obtain written permission from your mortgage provider, but as a rule of thumb this can't be done without permission. This is because it weakens the mortgage lenders position in a foreclosure situation.
What are the benefits of working with EHN?
What we can do for you is to assist you in navigating and gaining insight in to the market - both for rentals and for buying. We make sure we put you in touch with all the trusted partners that are necessary during the process. We also communicate and work in English. We accompany you to your viewings in order to advise you regarding what to look out for when buying a home. As soon as you wish to put an offer in to buy a home, we compose the offer for you, and write you a personal client profile. We also try to find out as much info from the agent as possible in terms of owner, condition, and other important factors. There is a municipality data system, and using this we research detailed info and records on the property, and neighbourhood for you. (What properties have been sold for in the direct vicinity, and therefore determining what might be the best offer for you to make - case by case). We negotiate for you in terms of pricing, oversee the technical inspection of property, and accompany you to the final singing with the notary and interpreter.
Does EHN also support with selling and buying properties?
Yes we do. Fee free to reach out to us via our buying page on our website