Deposit and how to get it back

What is a deposit?
When renting out living accommodation landlords can ask for a deposit. The amount is usually one months’ basic rent (“kale huur”: the rental costs without additional charges for things like furnishing or utitilities). This deposit is only meant to cover the repairs of any damage done to the apartment during the rental period. It cannot be used to cover any other money still owed by tenants (such as back rent, or outstanding utility bills) unless this has been agreed in advance, in writing, by both landlord and tenant.

What damage?
Regular wear and tear is not considered damage. Tenants are responsible for indoor painting and small and inexpensive maintenance (like replacing a broken showerhead), landlords have to take care of more specialist and costly maintenance (like repairing a broken water pipe). The cost of this maintenance is already included in the basic rent. Tenants should notify their landlord, preferably in writing, if there are any maintenance problems during their stay. Alterations to the apartment are only allowed if the landlord gave written permission in advance.

Moving in
When renting an apartment tenants should receive a check-in report, a written record of the condition the apartment (“opnamestaat”). This record is only binding if it is signed by both the landlord and the tenants. Without such a written record the apartment will be assumed to be in good condition. If the lease dates from before August 2003 tenants have to prove they left the the apartment in the same state as it was when they moved in. If the lease was signed after August 2003 the burden of proof is on the landlord.

If the apartment is furnished tenants should receive an itemised inventory list. If no such list is provided, they should ask for one. If tenants don’t receive a list we advise them to make their own, preferably with pictures, and send a copy to their landlord.

Moving out
When tenants give notice they should request a pre-inspection of the apartment. This pre-inspection  preferably takes place a few weeks before the tenants move out, giving the tenants time to do repairs or deep cleaning if necessary. During this pre-inspection the landlord and the tenants check the condition of the apartment using the check-in report and the itemised inventory list (if the apartment was furnished). A pre-inspection written report is made and signed by both landlord and tenants listing any repairs or cleaning the tenants need to do. At the end of the rental period, usually on the day the tenants vacate and hand over the keys, tenants and landlord have a final inspection. They check if the issues mentioned in the pre-inspection report have been taken care of. Both sign the written final check-out report. If during this inspection any of the maintenance problems listed in the pre-inspection report still remain, and they are legally the tenants’ responsibility, the cost of these repairs can be deducted from the deposit. Any repairs for which the landlord is legally responsible should still be paid for by the landlord. If no maintenance problems remain the deposit should be returned in full.

Deposit refund
After the deposit refund term mentioned in the contract (usually one or two months) the tenant can claim a refund, minus the cost of repairs for which the tenant was responsible. If the deposit is not refunded within that term the tenant can send the landlord a reminder. You can use this template letter .

Assistance
If tenants have sent the reminder-letter but still haven’t received their deposit back then the !WOON agency (a government funded tenant support agency) offers professional assistance, free of charge.

!WOON will need copies of the following documents:

  • Rental agreement
  • Deposit invoice and proof of payment
  • Inventory list (if the apartment was furnished)
  • Check-in report (“opnamestaat”), pre-inspection report, check-out report
  • Reminder letter to the landlord
  • Any other correspondence with the landlord regarding the deposit refund

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