Important to read before you start

Finding housing in Utrecht can be difficult and has its own typicalities. Did you for example know that searching with a group does not always work and do you know how to avoid online scams? Below you can find important things to be aware of and tips and tricks on how to deal with this. If you have any questions during your search please do not hesitate to contact us, we will aim to answer your questions best we can.

1. Reserved accommodation is limited

Universities in the Netherlands do not own student housing. Utrecht University reserves a limited number of rooms and studios with reliable housing providers for eligible new international students. Follow this link for more information.

Important:

  • This programme does not guarantee housing. The accommodation is rented out on a first come, first served basis
  • This programme only offers student housing for fixed rental periods of one or two full semesters for Erasmus / Exchange students, or 12 months for Degree students. It is not possible to apply for this programme as a student for other rental periods
  • This programme only offers housing for the first year of studies
2. Finding housing takes time and effort

Due to the high demand for student housing in and around Utrecht, finding a room can take up a lot of time and effort. An added difficulty can be looking for a room in a shared house when still abroad, as the housemates, but also the landlord, will usually want to meet you. It is important to take this in consideration and start your search well in advance.

Tips:
 

  • Suggest to attend the viewings via skype if you are still abroad
  • Consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester in order to attend the viewings in person
  • Consider accepting temporary housing for the start of the semester from where you can continue your search to more permanent accommodation
  • Increase your chances of finding housing by also searching in surrounding towns and cities
  • Actively use your social (media) network and keep telling people that you are looking for accommodation
  • Once you are in the Netherlands consider joining a student association or mentor programme to create a network of friends and peers
3. Beware of scammers

Unfortunately, when searching on the private housing market some people will try to take advantage of the high demand for rooms in and around Utrecht by advertising fake offers. This is called scamming. It is very important that you always check for reliability.

What to look out for:

  • Scammers often operate from abroad and are active in house searching Facebook groups, although they also post ads on other platforms
  • They post English ads or respond to your post and often target internationals who cannot yet visit and check the room
  • They often use photos from old housing ads, take on a different name or fake identity, and edit standard rental contracts that can easily be found online
  • They ask you to transfer money (often via anonymous money transferring services) before you have seen the room. Also be aware of fake websites that are designed to look like other websites (like Airbnb)
  • They tell you they live abroad and cannot show you the room via skype or once you are here
  • They present an offer that seems too good to be true, so too cheap and/or very central. Click here for the realistic average costs of housing in Utrecht
  • They do not provide clear answers to your questions

Tips:

  • If you intend to enter into an agreement with a private person, do not make any payments in advance
  • Set up a meeting and view the room in person or via skype
  • Do research to make sure that the agency, the address, the housing offer and landlord are legitimate. Besides for example a Google search, you can check the address in the Dutch Land Registry Database, and try a reversed image search
  • Do not limit yourself to English ads, but also include Dutch ads in your search. English ads have a higher risk of being a scam. Follow this link for a list of Dutch words that may be of use during your search
  • Check this blog by Kamernet with useful tips on how to recognise a rental scam and what to do when you are faced with scamming

One or more red flags, or are you in doubt about the reliability of an offer? Do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

4. Current tenants can search for their new housemate

Tenants are quite often allowed to look for new housemates among their friends and fellow students. Because of this, try to actively build your social network when you are searching for a room, keep telling people that you are looking for housing and ask people to keep an eye out for offers!

Tips:

5. You are not the only candidate

The number of available rooms through ads and listings may seem vast but it is important to know that there are usually numerous people who respond to each ad.  The landlord, tenants or agency commonly selects a number of candidates for a viewing from the respondents, which can be quite competitive. Advertisements are also not always up to date and already rented out. Responding to an advertisement therefore does not mean you automatically get the room.

Tips:
 

  • Keep responding to numerous ads and don’t be too picky
  • Do not limit yourself to just one or two housing websites but subscribe and check multiple sites and pages
6. You will often have to attend viewings

The current tenants will often invite several candidates to a viewing. This is called ‘hospiteren’ or ‘hospiteeravond’ in Dutch. During the viewing, the candidates present themselves to the current tenants. The current tenants then decide who they like best. Most students go through numerous attempts and viewings before they successfully find accommodation.

Tips:
 

  • Suggest to attend the viewing via Skype if you are still abroad
  • Consider coming to the Netherlands before the start of the semester so you can attend the viewings in person
  • Prepare yourself for a ‘hospiteeravond’. You can find some dos and don’ts on this blog by the popular housing platform Kamernet
7. Searching with a group does not always work

House sharing is not always allowed due to local regulations. Besides that, most landlords or agencies prefer to rent to a single person or couple, rather than to a group of students. Landlords and agencies will also often desire a proof of income to make sure that you can afford the rent.

Tips:
 

  • Besides looking with a group, also continue your search for accommodation on your own
8. Rental prices can be high

The Dutch housing market is for a large part liberalised and landlords are free to come to an agreement with a tenant about the rent. The average rent in Utrecht is higher than in most other towns and cities in the Netherlands.

However, rent can often be determined with the Rent Points System. On the basis of the Rent Points System you can request to have your rent reassessed, even after you signed your rental contract. The calculation is based on the size, amenities and quality of the accommodation.

Tips:
 

9. Rooms will often be unfurnished

Student rooms via the private market are usually unfurnished. Besides buying new furniture at for example Ikea, there are several ways to arrange furniture with a lower budget.

Tips: