Tenant protection in the Netherlands during COVID-19
In the uncertain times we are living in, no one should be left without a home. Sientje van Veldhoven the minister of Environment and Housing couldn’t agree more, “No one should end up on the street because of the corona crisis”, she said.
The ministry of environment and housing, together with the landlord associations, released a statement on 26 March 2020 expressing that tenants facing financial problems due to the corona crisis will not be evicted from their homes.
Additionally, the ministry is introducing new and temporary legislation which allows a temporary lease contract to be extended for a short period during this crisis, so that those with an ending temporary lease will not be forced to move during an already difficult time.
The government has taken a number of measures to ensure that as few people as possible get into financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus. Employers who have financially suffered as a result of the coronavirus are able to apply for help to cover employees salaries for a temporary period through the Temporary Emergency Bridging Measure for Sustained Employment (known as NOW).
Summary of joint statement
As the Dutch government’s statement ‘Geen huisuitzettingen en verlenging tijdelijke huurcontracten’, was released only in Dutch, we have prepared a short English summary below to help you understand its contents. Please note this is not an official translation, and should not be used as anything more than guidance.
- During this crisis a tenant might face the reality of not being able to pay their rent. This terrible situation is made worse by the fact that having a safe home in these times is more important than ever.
- Aside from the Government’s temporary measures already in place that aim to prevent job loss, further agreements were made with landlords stating that they should act leniently towards tenants in financial difficulty due to the Corona crisis.
- Tenants in such difficulty are still primarily responsible for finding financial aid through existing and temporary government measures, but landlords must now proactively inform tenants of their options.
- Since the requested support for companies from the NOW measures is not immediately received, landlords will do their utmost to find a personalised solution for the resulting intermediate period.
- The mail goal is to prevent evictions for tenants facing difficulties due to the coronavirus. So:
- Landlords will not charge debt collecting costs.
- Evictions will be postponed until after the end of the crisis.
- Landlords will examine each eviction procedure that started before 12 March individually.
- The financial and medical impact of the crisis on people and their loved ones is large and sudden. This makes finding a new home very difficult for tenants nearing the end of their lease. Because of this, the government is creating emergency legislation that allows leases to be extended for a temporary period. The law is yet to be published so unfortunately the details are still unknown.
What to do if you cannot pay your rent
If you want to stay: Talk to your landlord and see if you can come to an agreement. Perhaps they can offer a discount for a couple of months or will allow you to defer payment by a month or two. You will only know what is possible with an open line of communication.
If your landlord is not open to discussions, seek legal advice (see below) before taking any action (such as ceasing to pay your rent). Tenants in the Netherlands have a lot of rights, but with those rights come responsibilities.
If you want to leave: Your first step is to check what your regular options are according to your rental contract. Seek legal advice (see below) if you need further guidance on your situation.
- Do you have a minimum period within which you cannot end the lease? If so, is there a diplomatic clause included in your contract? If your work situation has changed and results in you needing to end your rental contract, you should be able to make use of the diplomatic clause.
- Do you have a limited period contract for a maximum of 2 years? Then there should be no minimum period in your contract, and you can terminate your lease according to the terms of the contract.
- If your contract permits you to terminate the lease, follow the instructions for giving notice (note: this is usually one calendar month by registered post to the landlord).
Seeking legal advice
If you are renting a home in the Netherlands, experiencing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus and are therefore unable to pay your rent, we recommend you seek legal advice.
Here are a couple of organisations that can inform you of your rights and provide you with legal guidance:
Woon! (Amsterdam area)
Limited information on English version of the site. Full version is in Dutch.
The !WOON tenant support agency (funded by the Amsterdam municipality) provides information, advice and support for tenants, confidentially and free of charge.
Usually you can receive face-to-face support from the help desk inside the IN Amsterdam office at Amsterdam Zuid. However, due to Corona measures, offices are currently closed until 28 April (assessing the situation and website will be updated with any info in case of developments). For now, they can be reached via phone 020-5230130 (Mon-Fri 9.00 - 17.30) or via their online contact form.
Het Juridisch Loket
‘Het Juridisch Loket’ is a legal aid desk that will help you free of charge with legal advice. It provides legal advice on matters surrounding housing and dealing with neighbours by providing information, tips and sample letters for your use. The website is in Dutch, however they should also be able to assist you in English.
Their offices are also closed (it is unknown until when their offices will be closed - their website will be updated with further info). For now, they can be reached via phone 0900 8020 (€0.10/min Mon-Fri 9.00 - 17.00) or via their online contact form.
FAQ for housing & Corona virus (in Dutch): https://www.juridischloket.nl/actueel/coronavirus-hypotheek-huur/
Written by Nadine, from our rental team.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice. Expat Housing Network therefore takes no legal responsibility for any resulting actions or repercussions of the information contained here.