How Can You Terminate a Lease Agreement in The Netherlands?

Over the years, renting in the Netherland has become so popular that signing and ending a lease agreement isn’t a big deal. If you are a tenant and want to end your lease, there are a set of rules to watch out for.

As a tenant, you can terminate your lease agreement in the Netherlands if the agreed rental duration is less than two years. Otherwise, you will need the consent of the landlord. At the same time, rental contracts with the indefinite term can be terminated within the month of notice.

Before signing your rental contract, check all details, so you will be aware of whether future termination is possible or not. Nonetheless, this article clarifies the situation with rental agreements in the Netherlands and how to end one if you need to.

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Termination of a lease agreement in the Netherlands

If you are a tenant looking for rental homes and flats in the Netherlands, you should learn how to terminate contracts hassle-free. Not only will you avoid the risk of going into a legal battle, but it could also help you retain good relations with your previous landlord.

As a tenant, you should understand the laws revolving around lease agreements while living in the Netherlands. Here are the essential things that all tenants need to know about the Dutch lease laws, specifically how to terminate a rental agreement legally.

General rules

Usually, a lease may only be terminated by notice of the tenant or landlord. However, there are several exceptions where the rental agreement ends without notice, including:

  • When a temporary lease contract expires: applies to agreements of a maximum of two years for independent living spaces (single-family homes, apartments, etc.).
  • On the expiry of temporary rental contracts of a maximum of five years (applies only to rooms).
  • In case of the termination of the lease due to non-compliance from the landlord’s or tenant’s side.

The termination of the lease should be done by sending a registered letter. The postman personally delivers the letter to your landlord.

For a lease termination following rules apply:

  • You must terminate the lease within the agreed timeframe, also known as the notice period. Your contract states how long it is. Usually, at least one month before you move out.
  • You must terminate the lease via the registered letter. After the letter is delivered, the landlord must give his/her signature to prove that they have the letter.

Moreover, the tenant can terminate the tenancy agreement without stating the reason. On the other hand, the landlord can only end the tenancy if there is a significant reason for it.

Besides, the lease is only terminated if the tenant agrees in writing to terminate the tenancy. If they disagree, the court’s intervention is necessary to end the rental contract.

Don’t forget that as a tenant, you should have liability insurance to protect you in case of damages made in the apartment. If you don’t have this policy, you must pay all the costs.

Rental period

Generally, rental contracts in the Netherlands can be divided into the following categories:

  • tenancy agreements with an indefinite term
  • short-term tenancy agreements of less than two & five years
  • regular rental agreements for longer than two & five years

In the Netherlands, most residential properties are rented for a fixed period, e.g., one or two years. Keep in mind that fixed rental contracts don’t automatically terminate at the end of the agreement. A landlord must inform you about the end of the lease beforehand.

Moreover, tenants benefit from a fixed rental period because landlords can not terminate the lease. The same applies to the open-ended rental agreement. The landlord can only terminate the contract in exceptional cases. In the Netherlands, it’s difficult to evict the tenant.

Terminating a temporary (fixed) rental contract

A temporary lease always states the date until it’s valid. You also may terminate such contract earlier. A notice period for a tenant is one month.

However, if the lease duration is longer than two years for apartments & homes and five years for rooms, you can only end it if the landlord agrees. The same applies to a termination by the landlord.

For example, you rent a house with the agreement for three years and want to move out after six months. This is only possible if the landlord agrees. If, on the other hand, the landlord disagrees, the tenant can only terminate the lease at the end of the term.

A rental agreement that is valid for less than two years for independent living spaces and five years for rooms doesn’t automatically end when that period has expired.

The landlord must inform you about the end of the tenancy between 3 and 1 month before the expiration. If they don’t do so, the lease also automatically changes into an open-ended tenancy agreement.

Termination of open-ended lease agreements

Many leases in the Netherlands are concluded for an indefinite period. You will only have a start date in the contract but no end date. Rental agreements for an indefinite period can only be terminated by the tenant. Landlords will need to jump through hoops.

Tenants are free to terminate the lease. The notice period is usually one month. However, for landlords, the situation is different. They must have one of the legal grounds for termination and state it in the termination letter. 

Plus, the lease doesn’t end with the termination by the landlord. The tenant must agree in writing first. If they don’t, the court must get involved.

Deadlines for termination

It’s extremely important to give your landlord a notice of termination. A tenant must give notice at least one month and a maximum of three months before the move-out date. In extreme cases, you could let the courts process a legal notice of termination on your behalf. 

For landlords, this period extends to at least three months. The landlord might terminate the lease by stating the legal reason and by sending a registered letter.

How can a rental agreement be terminated?

Notice of termination by tenant

Depending on the type of the lease agreement, a tenant may terminate the tenancy with a month of notice or within the period stated in the contract. On the contrary, if the lease is open-ended, the tenant may terminate it at any time within the specified notice period. 

The tenant’s notice period cannot exceed the payment term. Do you have a one-month payment term? In this case, there will also be a one-month notice period. There is no exception to this rule, even if the lease specifies otherwise. Additionally, the tenant may be allowed a notice period of three months.

Notice of termination by landlord

By law, landlords may only terminate fixed-term and open-ended rentals for the following reasons:

  1. The tenant is unreliable. For instance, by allowing a three-month payment arrears period to occur or by creating a serious nuisance;
  2. The landlord urgently needs the residential space;
  3. The landlord has made a reasonable offer to amend the rent. For instance, due to inflation, the landlord wishes to adjust the rent after an extended rental period, but the tenant disagrees;
  4. The landlord wants to construct a building at the location of the house.

Should any of the above grounds arise, the landlord has the right to terminate the lease within the specified notice period. However, it doesn’t mean that the lease actually ends. The tenant must agree to end the rental contract first.

If the tenant objects to the rent termination, the landlord must file legal proceedings with the subdistrict court in the Netherlands to terminate the rent.

Negotiating with the landlord

If you want to end the tenancy, but the law states that you can’t, it’s a good idea to negotiate with the landlord. You don’t need to go into the legal battle.

You could try to settle amicably by justifying your reasons. Negotiating with your landlord saves you the money and time you would rather spend looking for a new rental. If you have a good relationship with your landlord, you could also maintain it by terminating your lease agreement using this option. 

Problems during the lease termination 

In case you experience any troubles while ending the lease in the Netherlands, there are several ways to solve such problems. In the end, tenants are highly protected by the state, much more than landlords are.

Termination with a legal court’s intervention

Several statutory and administrative laws govern commercial and residential leases in the Netherlands. Among the standard lease laws upheld in a Dutch court is the “Raad voor Onroerende Zaken” or ROZ. This law states the general conditions of tenant-landlord agreements and the specific obligations of each party.  

Most of the provisions in this law favor the tenants through exclusive rights such as protection against eviction and extension of payment deadlines. If a landlord or a lessor were to violate any of the provisions, termination of the lease is possible.

Termination with minimal intervention from a legal court

Generally, lease agreement termination depends on the type of lease offered and the level of cooperation between tenant and landlord.

For example, most office leases operate under a semi-mandatory agreement that allows parties to negotiate the termination of their contract based on the current market conditions and other justifiable reasons. 

A more complicated and regulated semi-mandatory system applies to retail business space, reducing the freedom of contract execution.

A good example would be lessors offering renewals for more than five years, which pushes tenants to hesitate to terminate the lease agreement. Termination could only happen if the tenant serves justifiable notice and has no reason to make rental payments anymore. 

However, courts could still intervene under this system if there is abuse and negligence by the landlord. 

Can you terminate a rental agreement early?

As a tenant, you can terminate a fixed rental agreement early if it was conducted for less than two years for homes and five years for rooms. These contracts don’t state a fixed minimum rental duration. Yet, you must give at least one month of notice.

Rental agreements with a period of more than two years can not be ended earlier. But you can always ask the landlord whether you can move out and if both parties agree, even a long-term contract can be terminated.

For example, you could try to use your financial or personal reasons and talk with your landlord if you want to terminate the agreement earlier than expected. Should you face financial challenges, you could also consult legal help.

Termination by the landlord

The landlord or lessor cannot terminate a lease agreement in the country without approval from a legal court. If you face eviction threats and other menacing remarks from your landlord, you could bring a case directly to court.

Regardless of the financial status of the landlord, market condition, or personal background of the tenant, no landlord would evict their tenants using violent and forceful means.

You should gather evidence quickly if you experience threatening actions toward you, such as suddenly being unable to access water or electricity or your landlord placing some hindrances to prevent you from entering your rental space.

Should any landlord evict their tenants forcefully, the courts will consider this a breach of contract, and you may file a criminal lawsuit against them. 

Tenant’s rights in the Netherlands

Tenants have a right to ‘quiet enjoyment of their accommodations. Thus, landlords must facilitate and provide this enjoyment within the limits of what a tenant may reasonably expect.

A landlord has no control over noise nuisances caused by neighbors, and thus they do not have a duty to remedy them (unless the neighbors are renting from the same landlord).

Defects

If a landlord is responsible for repairing a defect, tenants must notify their landlord in writing. After receiving written notification from the tenant, the landlord must fix the fault within a reasonable time (no more than six weeks).

Landlord entering the house

In case of repairs, your landlord can enter your residence. However, they cannot enter your dwelling without your permission.

When your landlord plans to repair your accommodation, they must ask you first, and you may ask them to do so later if you are unavailable. However, urgent repairs and maintenance can be an exception.

Similarly, the landlord must obtain your permission before entering if you live in student housing and share common areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and balconies. If your landlord enters without your consent, it could constitute a grave offense.

Alterations to the dwelling by the tenant

It’s okay for tenants to make changes to their accommodations as long as these are not permanent and are easily reversible after they leave. If you intend to make any more substantial changes to your apartment, you should ask your landlord’s permission before embarking on such a journey.

Alterations made to a property should not harm its property value or cause potential damage to future tenants. Also, it’s prohibited for a landlord to add furniture that would result in a decrease in the property value. Decrease as a result of those changes.

As a general rule, more considerable alterations or those the landlord cannot easily undo will require permission and agreement from your co-tenants and the landlord. On the contrary, no consent is essential for minor alterations, like drilling holes.

Copying your key

As a tenant, you have the right to make a copy of the key to your accommodation, if you prefer. However, whether this is physically possible is different since some keys are complicated to duplicate and, therefore, very expensive to replicate. Nevertheless, you are within your right to do it and spend it.

Anna

Anna is an enthusiastic expatriate with experience of living in Germany, Austria and Greece. She shares her passion for living abroad on this website.

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