Friday, November 23, 2012

House to huis: signing a lease

What do I need to know about signing a lease?
We had, overall, very positive experiences negotiating and signing our leases. I'm lucky that I have a very precise and organized husband who reads (and rereads) things like leases, doesn't hesitate to ask questions, and doesn't care how much time it takes. Trust me, he goes slow. But he's caught so many errors! 

First of all, I don't know all the answers but we've been through it twice so we've had some practice. All you need to sign your lease is your passport and cash/wire transfer. Your agent should have an English version of the contract for you to keep (you need it!). Make sure you read it very carefully. If you want a sample, email me and I'll send you an old one of ours. 

Here's my list of top "do's"...

Negotiate. Utilities/TV/Internet are sometimes included and can cost about €150-200 per household. Consider that TV/internet set-up can take weeks, who knows why. What about water and garbage levies, which can run you €300 per year? And definitely negotiate rent. At least €100 under the asking price. Don't be afraid to chase down some neighbors and ask what they pay (they're probably Dutch and don't mind telling you!).

Check out the condition of everything. Goes without saying, but check the windows (single, double paned?), gas hob, toilets can be very old, water marks on the walls, radiators/heating, washer/dryer (translation needed?), etc. If you're getting a furnished place, check the furniture--you're paying probably €100/month for the furniture so it should be in good condition!

Ask about maintenance. Is the building kept-up regularly? Windows washed? Foyer and stairs swept? Who pays for this?

Ask about storage. Is there bicycle parking or a locker in the basement? These can come in very handy.

Demand the Diplomatic Clause in the contract. This states that if you must move far away for an important reason (job) then you can terminate your lease early. 

Definitely check out other articles on the subject, like at Expatica. Great resource. 

The most comfy chair we own! Got it off Craigslist for $30. Score. 


  1. Hi Meredith, found your blog via cycle chic. Your posts (esp on cycling) are so timely for me, as we are relocating to Amsterdam in four weeks. We do already have a lease signed, thank goodness. Your red bike is adorable. Looking forward to reading more...

  2. Thanks for finding me Sara! Email me when you get into town and we'll go for a coffee and bike ride!

  3. That would be so lovely. Will do!


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