Rights & Obligations as Tenant

introduction

Dutch law specifies specific obligations for the landlord and the tenant. These legally determined rules are called the mandatory laws and apply when no diverging rules have been established. Every tenant, also students, can call upon their rental rights. In this section, you can find information on subletting your room, registering your address or terminating your contract, as well as a general overview of your rights and obligations in a tenancy agreement.

Quite often, different rules apply to students who rent a room, in comparison with regular tenants. Students are, for example, not allowed to rent a student apartment after they have been unsubscribed from being a student. In case you think that your rights are being compromised by the landlord, you can receive legal assistance.

No matter whether you are renting an apartment/studio or a room in a student house, the general obligations are as follows:

Tenants must:

  • Pay the monthly rent on time.
  • Follow the agreed house rules.
  • Allow repairs to be made (within a reasonable period) as part of the maintenance of your place.
  • Give notice of one rental payment to terminate the rental contract.

Landlords must:

  • Ensure availability of the property within the agreed rental period.
  • Cover any necessary repairs (within a reasonable period) as part of the maintenance of your place.
  • Solve any problems affecting the tenant (plumbing, electricity, internet, etc.)
  • Give valid reasons and notice (three to six months) to terminate the rental contract.

Maintenance

The tenant and landlord have their own responsibilities to maintain, repair and replace parts of the rented accommodation. Big maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord. He/she is responsible for things such as leakages, maintenance of frames, replacing broken heaters etc. Small and daily maintenance and damages incurred by yourself are the responsibility of the tenant. These are defined in this downloadable document. If the landlord also takes care of these small daily repairs, he or she is eligible to charge you in the form of service costs. However, this is only the case when you and your landlord discussed and agreed on this explicitly.

In general:

  • The tenant pays for minor repairs and the landlord for major repairs and maintenance;
  • The tenant must have easy access to make minor repairs and the repairs must not be expensive. Otherwise, the landlord must pay for them;
  • The tenant must allow the landlord to enter the accommodation to carry out maintenance or repairs.

registering your address

You are legally required to register your innitial address with the municipality upon moving to Maastricht if you are planning on staying more than 4 months. Students who are not staying for longer than four months do not have to register (such as exchange students). You can attend one of the free registration sessions organised by UM and the municipality to register. Further, if you are moving to another address during your stay you are obliged to register your current address with the municipality.

If you are non-EU student you can pick up your residence permit at the visa office where employees of the municipality will register you. Non-EU students should therefore not go to the municipality nor to one of the registration sessions.

If you change address within Maastricht, you also have to let the municipality know. You can use the guidance document below to help you do so. Also, don’t forget to deregister from the municipality once you leave Maastricht!

Terminating a contract

Once you rent an apartment, the agreement can only be terminated by the tenant (except under special circumstances). This means, for example, that the landlord cannot simply cancel your contract if he/she dislikes you. Visit this website to see the cases where a landlord may terminate a contract.

If you want to cancel the rent as a tenant, you can do this through a signed letter to the landlord, stating that you want to end the rental agreement.

You still have to deal with a notice when cancelling your rent. Normally, the notice equals the term of payment, which has been written down in the contract. For example, if you pay rent monthly, you have to give one month’s notice. Unless differently stated in the rental agreement, the cancellation of the rent needs to be done before the first day of the month.

subletting

Subletting involves tenants renting out their accommodation to a second tenant. This is often done by students partaking in internships or semesters abroad, in the hope that they can return to their previous housing when returning to Maastricht. The option to sub-rent is dictated by the owner of the residence, and is then not available to everyone. This may be a practical option, but it is important to understand your obligations and rights before deciding whether this is the best choice for you. Visit Rijksoverheid to get a better idea of this practice.

Returning Letters

Sometimes you may receive a letter that has been sent to the wrong address. For example, this can happen if a letter is addressed to the person who lived in the room before you and the sender does not know that they have moved out. If you receive a letter like this, you should send it back to the sender. This is free to do. First, cross out the name and address on the front of the letter. You do not have to cross out the barcode at the bottom of the envelope. Next, write “retour afzender” (return to sender) on the front of the letter and post it. It is now the responsibility of the sender not to use your address anymore.  For more info visit post.nl (only in Dutch).

legal advice

Housing Helpdesk is an organisation founded by Maastricht University and the municipality of Maastricht specifically to help students with housing related difficulties. It is an excellent resource for things like problems with your rental contract or your deposit.

It is also possible to receive free legal advice within Maastricht, both Studentenrechtsbureau and Het Juridisch Loket have websites through which you can get in touch. In addition, the Juridisch Loket have a legal desk, where they are happy to speak English that is open on Monday between 09.00 and 11.00 and Thursday between 14.00 and 16.00 at Avenue Ceramique.

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