When dealing with rental properties, you will be asked for a security deposit by the landlord or real estate agent. This security deposit is often two months of rent.
This security deposit cannot be used for rent payments but is only for damage and losses purposes.
Once you check out the accommodation and there are no damages, the landlord or agency should refund your deposit. If not, they should elaborate on why they are withholding your deposit (partially) and show proof that you are liable for this. This latter case might not be that easy for landlords, and in most cases, they don’t have any right to withhold your deposit at all.
Most landlords or agencies take their chances on international students and expats for not knowing their rights regarding the housing law. Are you still waiting for your deposit? Read on for some legal advice and knowledge on this matter.
What Is A Security Deposit?
The security deposit acts as a security for the landlord or real estate agent that potential damages to the rental property (unfurnished property) and/or its furniture (furnished property) will be covered once you check out the accommodation. The security deposit should also give the landlord the security that you, the tenant, will treat the property right, as you obviously would like to receive your deposit back once you leave the apartment. With this being said, rental deposits are refundable if you keep the apartment nice and clean. However, there are some exceptions to this as well. More about this later.
What Does The Dutch Rental Law Say About The Security Deposit?
By Dutch rental law, it is allowed to ask for a security deposit. There is no information in the law about how high the deposit should be, but the court ruled that the deposit amount should be fair, as in a maximum of three months rent excl—service costs. If your apartment’s security deposit is more than three months rent, you could object to it before or after signing the tenancy agreement. Do keep in mind, objecting before you sign the lease may result in you not getting the apartment. It may be wise to inform the landlord after signing the lease that the deposit amount is too high.
What Can The Landlord Deduct From The Deposit?
The landlord can deduct damages and losses from the deposit or any outstanding payments. However, the latter does not necessarily have to be deducted from the deposit. The landlord can also choose to invoice you separately, as the deposit is supposed to be used to cover any damages to the apartment and its furniture.
What About Normal Wear And Tear?
The landlord cannot hold your deposit over normal wear and tear or due to lack of maintenance by the landlord. Normal wear and tear are traces of use on the walls, kitchen, bathroom and such. Normal wear and tear mostly happen to furniture and areas which you use daily.
Can The Landlord Keep Your Deposit?
Simply said, no, the landlord cannot keep your deposit without a valid reason. However, even if he has a valid reason, if he does not document the check-in or check-out report, there is a small chance that he can keep your full deposit. By Dutch rental law, the burden of proof lies with the landlord. This means that the landlord has to prove that you are liable for the losses and damages that he claims to have. If he cannot prove it, the judge will rule in your favour with either a smaller fee or no fee for you at all.
What Is A Check-In Report, And Is It Important?
When you are going to move into the apartment, the landlord or agency should do a check-in with you.
If they don’t plan an actual check-in with you, don’t worry and don’t ask for it.
It will be in your, the tenant, advantage. The check-in is actually a legal matter for the landlord. Without a check-in, the landlord cannot prove that you caused any damage at the check-out, thus cannot withhold your deposit, at least not easily.
Is the landlord or agency going to do a check-in with you? Don’t worry. Most check-in reports are not how they suppose to be. Either the landlord or real estate agent lacks the knowledge about conducting a good check-in report or simply too lazy to perform a good check-in.
Make pictures and videos of everything, especially of the damages and malfunctions. Note down the meter readings (meterstanden) of gas, water and electricity. The landlord is obligated to provide you with the actual usage of the service costs, as it is forbidden for the landlord to make any profit on service costs.
Read more about service costs here.
What Is A Check-Out Report And Is It Important?
A check-out report is a report about the condition of the accommodation at the end of your rental period. This is most of the time when your tenancy agreement comes to an end or when you are terminating your tenancy agreement.
A good landlord or real estate agent will conduct a check-out with you, but as mentioned above about the check-in, not every landlord or real estate agent knows how to perform a good check-out.
If no check-out is offered to you, don’t ask for it. It will be in your favour.
Without an actual check-out, the landlord cannot prove the state of the apartment when you left. Anything damaged? It might as well happened after you left. Anything missing? It might as well went missing when you already left. Didn’t get a check-in? It might as well all happened before you even moved in.
The burden of proof lies with the landlord. The tenant is considered by the law as the ‘weaker party’, and the landlord or real estate agent is considered the professional party. They ought to be aware of the rental law and the given rules and regulations regarding renting out accommodation.
Make pictures of the state of the accommodation before you leave, and take pictures of the meter readings (meterstanden’) of gas, water and electricity.
The difference between the check-in meter readings and the check-out meter readings is your actual usage. The landlord is required to refund the overpaid service costs when you used fewer utilities than expected. If you overuse the utilities, you might be asked to pay for the difference, but the landlord is obligated to refund you the difference if you used less.
What Can I Do If I Don’t Get My Deposit Back From The Landlord?
If you don’t get your deposit back from the landlord, you should ask for the reasoning and the invoices. If he cannot provide you with a legitimate reason and invoices, you should inform him that you will inquire with a lawyer about your rights. Sometimes they will give in and reimburse your deposit, but most of the times, they will try their luck and stick with their point of view. The reason for the latter is because they assume that you, as an international student or expat, are not aware of the Dutch rental law and your rights, or you might be back in your home country, which could make all this much more difficult. Also, the landlord assumes that most international students or expats don’t want to proceed with legal actions because it takes time and money. However, we might be able to help you. You can do a contract check and explain your situation. We will check your contract and situation and inform you about your options.