Finding housing in Utrecht can be difficult and has its own typicalities. 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.

1. Reserved Accommodation is limited and books up quick 

Universities in the Netherlands do not own student housing. Utrecht University reserves a limited number of furnished rooms and studios with reliable housing providers for eligible new international students. This is called the Reserved Accommodation Programme. The accommodation part of this programme is rented out on a first come, first served basis. Because this programme does not guarantee housing, many students do not find housing this way and search on the private housing market on their own. Make sure to anticipate that you might not be able to book via this programme and consider other options before booking opens.

2. Finding housing on your own takes time and effort

Due to the high demand for student housing in and around Utrecht, finding a room or studio on your own can take up a lot of time and effort. It is important to take this in consideration and start your search several months prior to your admission. An added difficulty can be that the housemates, but also the landlord, will usually want to meet with you.

Tips & tricks:

  • 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 a more permanent place to stay
  • Increase your chances of finding housing by also searching in surrounding towns and cities

3. Beware of scams

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. If you are in doubt about the reliability of an offer please do not hesitate to contact us for advice.

Red flags:

  • 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 usually say they live abroad and cannot show you 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 present an offer that seems too good to be true, so too cheap and/or very central. 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 search for a room, keep telling people that you are looking for housing and ask people to keep an eye out for offers!

Tips & tricks:

5. You are not the only candidate

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

Tips & tricks

  • Keep responding to numerous ads, don’t be too picky, and try to stand out with your message
  • Make sure to also include surrounding towns and cities in your search
  • 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 or hospiteeravond, the candidates present themselves to the current tenants. The current tenants then decide who they have a social connection with or who they like best as their new roommate. Most students go through numerous attempts and viewings before they successfully find accommodation.

Tips & Tricks:

  • Do not stop your search for housing if you have arranged one or two viewings, instead try to arrange multiple
  • 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 or flat sharing is not always allowed due to local regulations. Besides that, most landlords and 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. Besides looking with a group, make sure to also continue your search for accommodation on your own.

8. Rental prices can be high

The average rent in Utrecht is higher than in most other towns and cities in the Netherlands. It is a good idea to anticipate the average costs for a student room in Utrecht before your arrival.

Tips & tricks:

  • Calculate a realistic housing budget in adcance and make sure to include fees, taxes and a deposit
  • Consider renting a room in neighbouring cities or outside the city centre
  • 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.. 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.If you think you might be paying too much you could consider a rental check

9. Accommodation will often be unfurnished

Student rooms and studios via the private market are usually unfurnished. It can increase your chances to also include unfurnished accommodation. There are several ways to arrange furniture even with a lower budget.

Tips & tricks:

  • Ask the previous tenant if they would like to sell on some items to you
  • Rent your furniture from a specialised company like Student Furniture Holland
  • Buy furniture in one of the many second hand shops in or around Utrecht ('kringloopwinkel' in Dutch)
  • Search for furniture deals on the Dutch online trade platform Marktplaats
  • Post an ad or respond to listings on Facebook communities of flats and neighbourhoods