Rights and obligations for tenants and landlords

Tenant’s duties (landlord’s rights)

Minor repairs

According to Dutch law, if something is classified as a ‘minor repair’, then it falls to the tenant to take care of it, at their own expense. The only exception to this is if the damage requiring the minor repair was in some way caused by the landlord failing to meet their own obligations. This document lists the repairs that are considered minor, starting on page 3.

However, a tenant is not expected to shoulder any unreasonable or overly burdensome costs when repairing – these should be taken care of by the landlord.

Lastly, it is possible for the landlord and tenant to agree that the landlord will take on any minor repairs, and pass on the costs to the tenant under ‘service charges’ – check for this in your contract!

If there is damage that would require a non-minor repair, but the landlord is unresponsive, the tenant still has a duty to repair the damage if there is a risk of it causing permanent harm to the dwelling (e.g. a leak). The tenant may then pass on the costs of this repair to the landlord, provided they are reasonable.

Improper use

If, as a result of a tenant’s improper use of the accommodation, significant damage is caused to the dwelling, a landlord cannot be expected to pay for repairing this damage. Even if the repair is not ‘minor’, a tenant is expected to take care of it, as it was caused by their own negligence and unreasonable behaviour.

This is why it might be a good idea to take out liability insurance (WA insurance), which protects you from any financial claims that may result from accidents that have led to damage and / or injuries – in other words, your insurance will pay for any damage to the property caused by you. Banks will often give you the option to take out such insurances with them.

Allowing the landlord entry

Tenants are also under an obligation to allow landlords to enter their accommodation in order to carry out any necessary repairs – the right of the landlord to enter your dwelling is not absolute, however, and they must also obey some rules regarding this (see below).

Good tenant conduct

Tenants must comply with legal requirements and behave in a manner befitting a proper and decent tenant. When renting a room in a student house, a tenant may be subject to rules and regulations that differ compared to renting a detached house. Good tenant conduct, in any case, includes using the property in accordance with its intended purpose, without causing inconvenience to the landlord or third parties. In addition, the (timely) payment of the rent is seen as a characteristic of good tenant conduct. If the tenant does not behave in a manner befitting a good tenant, the landlord may request the court to terminate the tenancy contract – this only happens in very serious cases, though.

Good tenant conduct includes:

  • Ensuring the accommodation is free from damage
  • Ensuring the landlord does not suffer any losses (e.g. loss of rent resulting from the tenant’s behaviour)
  • Informing the landlord in any cases where withholding information could negatively affect the interests of the landlord or local residents
  • Ensure damage to environment and local residents (e.g. noise nuisances) is prevented – for example, not being a noise nuisance, taking out your garbage at the correct times, and not leaving your bike in the middle of the hallway or entrance

Tenants are also liable for any damage to the property caused by their guests.

Tenant’s rights (landlord’s duties)

As a tenant, you have a right to the ‘quiet enjoyment of your accommodation’ – it is thus your landlord’s duty to provide for and facilitate this enjoyment, within the limits of what a tenant may reasonably expect.

Some things, like noise nuisances caused by neighbours, are out of the landlord’s control, and so do not fall under their duties (unless the nuisance comes from neighbours renting from the same landlord).

Defects

In the case of a defect that falls under the landlord’s duty to repair, tenants must notify their landlord of this in writing. In their turn, landlords must fix the defect within a reasonable time (with a maximum of six weeks) after receiving the tenant’s written notification. If the six weeks pass, tenants should contact the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg (HTZL), and you may be able to get a temporary reduction in rent.

Landlord entering the dwelling

Your landlord has a right to enter your residence when this is required to make any repairs. However, they cannot do so without your permission – the landlord is absolutely subject to the tenant’s consent in order to enter their dwelling. Thus, your landlord must ask you whenever they are planning on carrying out any repairs in your accommodation, and you are within your rights to ask them to do so at another time. Urgent repairs and maintenance can be an exception to this, though.

If you live in student housing and share common areas (e.g. bathrooms, kitchen, etc.), the landlord also needs to ask for permission – or at least provide prior notification – in order to enter these.

If you do not grant your landlord permission to enter and they do so anyways, this could constitute a grave offence. You should contact the HTZL if this is the case, as your landlord is trespassing.

Alterations to the dwelling by the tenant

Tenants are allowed to make changes to the accommodation, as long as these are not permanent and can be easily undone after the tenant leaves the dwelling. If you wish to make more substantial changes, you should definitely ask for your landlord’s permission to do so.

Any alterations made cannot damage the rentability of the property, or cause its value to decrease. As a general rule, you’ll need your landlord’s permission for larger alterations (those that cannot be easily undone). Small alterations, like drilling holes (which can be easily filled again) do not require permission.

Copying your key

As a tenant, you are allowed to make a copy of the key to your accommodation. Whether this is physically possible is a different question, though, as some keys are very hard and very expensive to copy. Nevertheless, it is within your rights to do so if you wish.

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