If you come to live and work in the Netherlands, you’re more likely to start out by renting a house or flat rather than buying one. In practice, Dutch landlords tend to impose a certain minimum rental period – generally one year – on new tenants. This is of course because they have an interest in minimising the turnover rate in their rentals. However, it’s sometimes hard to judge the difference between a ‘periodic’, i.e. long-term, tenancy with a minimum initial duration of up to two years and a two-year fixed-term tenancy. Whether you’re better off opting for a fixed-term tenancy during which neither party is entitled to give notice, or for flexibility, i.e. a periodic tenancy agreement under which you’re entitled to give notice from month to month, depends on your own specific circumstances and wishes.
Dutch tenancy law traditionally affords tenants a great deal of protection, for example in the form of restrictions placed on the right of landlords to give notice.
A landlord may end a tenancy agreement only in exceptional circumstances. In practice, a landlord wishing to end a tenancy agreement must go to court and demonstrate either that they urgently need the property in question for their own needs, or that you have been a bad tenant. This protection also applies to fixed-term tenancy agreements such as one-year tenancy agreements. Rather than ending automatically at the end of the tenancy period, a fixed-term tenancy agreement is extended for an indefinite period once the agreed term comes to an end, for example after one year has passed. As a tenant, you continue to enjoy protection even once the initial fixed term has come to an end.
Since 1 July 2016, Dutch law has allowed tenants and landlords to sign fixed-term tenancy agreements that do not provide the tenant with the same level of protection. In practice, this has created more opportunities to vary the contract duration and the type of protection afforded to the tenant.
Basically, there are four different options from which you can choose. These are as follows:
Option 1 : You rent a property for an unspecified period of time
In this case, you can end the contract at any time, provided that you give the landlord one calendar month’s notice. You are fully protected from eviction by the landlord.
Option 2 : You rent a property for an unspecified period, subject to a minimum initial period (one year, for example)
As a tenant, you are not entitled to terminate this type of rental agreement prior to the agreed expiry date. This is because you are committed to renting the property in question for a minimum period, for example of one year. At the end of this initial period, the agreement continues as a contract of unspecified duration that you can terminate at any time, provided that you give the landlord one calendar month’s notice. You are protected from eviction by the landlord as from the start of the contract.
Option 3 : You rent a property for a fixed term of no more than two years
You are not protected from eviction by the landlord. The tenancy agreement ends automatically at the end of the agreed two-year term (or earlier, if the agreement is for a shorter period), at which point you will be required to vacate the property. The landlord is obliged to notify you, within three calendar months and one calendar month prior to the expiry date, that the agreement will indeed be expiring. The tenant qualifies for full protection if the landlord fails to do so.
You can terminate the agreement at any time, provided that you give the landlord one calendar month’s notice. If the agreement is extended, the tenant is then afforded full protection.
Option 4 : You rent a property for a fixed term of more than two years (three years, for example)
Although you are afforded full protection as a tenant, you are not entitled to leave (‘quit’) before the agreed expiry date. Once the initial tenancy period has come to an end, the contract continues as a ‘periodic tenancy’, i.e. a tenancy agreement of unlimited duration that you can terminate at any time, provided that you give the landlord one calendar month’s notice.
Would you like us to take a look at your contract?
As I have already said, it’s impossible to say which type of agreement is best, i.e. a fixed-term contract with a minimum initial duration or a ‘periodic’ contract of unlimited duration under which you’re entitled to give notice from month to month. It all depends on your own specific circumstances. Obviously, we would be more than pleased to help you decide by examining your draft rental agreement for you.