Rotterdam Expat Centre is now Rotterdam International Center. We have moved into a new office in the Groot Handelsgebouw read more


Many people happily rent in Rotterdam and Schiedam. The prices are relatively low and the houses quite spacious. There are a few things you have to keep in mind when you are looking for a place. What are the costs of an estate agent, what is the length of a rental contract, and do you need a housing permit? Find out below.

How do I find a place to rent?

Using an estate agent (makelaar) is the most common way to go about renting. There are a number of online services which aggregate the majority of flats and houses available to rent or buy throughout the Netherlands. It can be useful to set up an alert for places which become available in your preferred area and budget. You can also check individual estate agents, as they update their websites more regularly and may not place smaller apartments on these websites.

The estate agent shows you the available rental properties and arranges the legal paperwork. This service will cost you an agency fee, which will be up to one month rent. Make sure to include these costs in your calculations. In most cases, when you first start renting a flat or house, your initial payment will be three months rent: one month for the estate agent, one month for the security deposit, and your first month’s rent for living there.

A few companies specifically target the expat housing market and may have rental properties tailored to expat needs (e.g. fully furnished family dwellings available for more than three months but less than one year).

Viewing possible houses

When dealing with an estate agent, it is best to call them as soon as possible after the advertisement has been placed. You can also email, but the property market here is very fast-paced, so it is best to call. The estate agent will arrange a viewing for you. If you like the place, inform them as soon as possible and they will also arrange all the documentation for you, and arrange a date for moving in. This may take a few days, but all you will need to do is transfer the appropriate amounts, bring your documentation to the estate agent, and sign the papers. Then the keys to your new place are yours!

The rental contract

Rental contracts usually start from one year. You will have to negotiate with the estate agent to get a shorter-term contract, or go an estate agent that specialises in housing for expats. Once you have completed your first one-year rental contract, one month’s notice is customary. Dutch law usually favours the tenant. When you occupy a house under contract, the landlord cannot increase your rent multiple times a year, as happens in other European cities. The landlord also cannot increase your rent more than a certain percentage a year.

Is my new place furnished?

Dutch apartments do not usually come furnished. If you need a furnished apartment, please specify this in your search. Some apartments are rented bare (kaal), which means they do not have floor coverings (carpet, wooden flooring, etc.), curtains or blinds, or any appliances. Dutch people sometimes take their floor coverings along with them from apartment to apartment.

If you have the nationality of an EEA country and your income is below a certain level, you can apply for rent benefit (‘huurtoeslag’). This housing allowance is a monthly payment from the Dutch tax authorities to support low-income residents who are paying a relatively high monthly rent. The conditions for this benefit are listed here.

What do I need to rent a house/apartment?

  1. Your national identity card from an EU country or your passport (you will need to provide a photocopy)
  2. Proof of employment – this only applies if you are renting a whole apartment or house. If you are only renting a room, you will probably not need this.
  3. Funds for your new apartment. You may not need a Dutch bank account for transferring costs, as you can make an international bank transfer. If you are coming from within the Euro zone, this will be very easy. If you are coming from outside the European Union, please check with your bank that you can make this type of transfer easily in order to avoid stress when organising your rental contract.

Housing permit

Certain neighbourhoods in Rotterdam require a housing permit (huisvestingsvergunning or HVV). This means that the tenant (in this case you) needs permission to live in a rental house in these areas. To apply for a housing permit from the Public Services department of the municipality, please make an appointment by calling +31 (0)10-2671625. To find a full overview of the streets that require a housing permit, click here.