Tenancy agreement – are you in the know?Marie-Christine Veltkamp-van Paassen
When moving abroad for work, one of the most relevant issues that one needs to take care of is housing. Things to consider are the quality of the housing, price, one’s duration of stay and finding a place one can call home. Many companies have their own relocation team that handles the legal aspects of a tenancy agreement for their employees. However, still most internationals (or expats) make use of the services of a real estate agent or find a place on the housing market themselves.
Peculiarities under Dutch tenancy law
In the Netherlands, tenancy law has a few peculiarities that are unknown to foreigners. Whether you have been here for a long time and are changing houses, or have just arrived, it is advisable to review some of the main points:
- Responsibility of termination lies with landlord:
Landlord and tenant enter into a tenancy agreements either for a definite or indefinite period of time. When they enter into an agreement for a definite period of time, responsibility to terminate the tenancy agreement lies with the landlord. This means that the tenancy does not automatically end on the day the rental period expires. When summoning the tenant to vacate the premises, the landlord is obliged to have legal grounds to do so. He may not simply terminate the rental agreement ‘silently’ (without a reason). Security of tenure can be invoked, even when landlord and tenant concluded the tenancy agreement for a definite period of time.
- Reasonable notice period:
Should the landlord want to terminate the agreement at the end of the rental period, he must give the tenant notice of leave with a reasonable notice period. Moreover, notice of termination must be in writing, best by registered post. When the rental period expires without notification from the landlord, the agreement automatically turns into an agreement for an indefinite period of time.
- Grounds based on contract or law
Notice of termination must be based on grounds stated in either the law or the contract. Otherwise it will be declared invalid. If the landlord does not base the notice of termination on grounds stated in the law or contract, the tenancy agreement will carry on under the previously stated conditions. This means that it is difficult for a landlord to terminate a contract.
Since 2016 there are several exceptions to these strict rules. If landlord and tenant agreed upon a contract for a definite time of less than two years, the landlord can terminate the contract without being bound to grounds stated in the law. This makes it easier for the landlord to terminate the contract. However, he or she still has to give notice to the tenant. Also, when you are renting a room of a house instead of a whole house, this exception applies to definite contracts with a duration up to five years.
Lastly, if the tenant disagrees with the termination or does not respond to the notification, the landlord can bring the matter before the court. The judge will then have to decide whether or not to grant the grounds mentioned in the notification. Such an eviction procedure will take about three months during which the tenant may stay on the rented premises. However, if you as the tenant are in the wrong, you will need to pay the costs of the proceedings.
Thus, do not despair when given notification to leave your beloved rented accommodation. Tenants are very well protected under Dutch law.
Also, keep in mind that that the above is merely general information. In order to have a good understanding of which rules apply to your contract, it is advisable to consult a specialist. Should you have any questions or would you like more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Update article: December 2017.