Rights and Obligations

introduction

The housing laws can seem complex and overwhelming if you do not speak Dutch and are unfamiliar with Dutch housing. Nevertheless, being familiar with some of your basic rights and obligations as a tenant will be very useful and could save you a lot of stress in the future. We can help you find what you need to know, helping with issues such as subletting your room or changing your address in Maastricht.

tenants

It is often the tenants’ responsibility to know the laws surrounding their specific accommodation, these are usually included within the contract supplied by the housing agency. They may also be found online, through sites like Wijksteunpunt Wonen and I amsterdam, or provided by free legal services. However, every housing situation is different and tenants should attempt to inform themselves as much as possible on the laws imposed on them.

landlords

Landlords also need to follow regulations concerning their provision of housing, these laws are generally put in place to ensure fair practice and protect the rights of tenants. Again, the general laws are covered online, on sites like Expatica. Understanding these laws can make a big difference when it comes to getting your safety deposit back or for instance knowing which bills you should pay.

legal advice

Housing Helpdesk is an organization founded by Maastricht University and the municipality 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 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 5 days a week on Avenue Ceramique.

registering your address

You are legally required to register your 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 organized by UM and the municipality to register. These sessions are organized in August, September & February and you can sign up for them here (UM login required). If you move here in another month, you will have to go directly to the municipality to register.

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!

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) 

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.

voting

Non-Dutch nationals can vote at the local level in the municipal and water board elections. Without Dutch citizenship, however, it is not possible to take part in other elections.

Municipal Council Elections
The municipality is the level of government that is closest to the people.  The council sets the agenda such as job creation, improved public transport etc. and the municipal executive then carries out the priorities of the council. The municipality plays an important role in shaping the city.

One example is the purchase of the MECC this year and the promise of €15 million investment over the coming years. If there are other areas you would like to see improved in Maastricht, make your vote count at the next elections.

The Water Board Elections
Water management is something particularly relevant in the Netherlands, a country renowned for its canals.  The Water Boards perform the water management on behalf of their citizens, making sure there are proper water defences and that waste water is correctly purified etc. Different parties will prioritize different approaches, so make sure you vote carefully.

Practicalities
To vote you must be:

  • 18 years of age or over
  • A Resident of the Maastricht municipality/Water Board territory on nomination day.
  • A Dutch/EU citizen
  • If you are not an EU citizen, you must have been living in the Netherlands for at least 5 years.

If you are eligible to vote in these elections, the Maastricht municipality and the water board will send you your voting card in the post prior to the election date. You need to bring this voting card, along with valid ID to the polling stations.

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