Universiteit Leiden

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Finding housing yourself

Finding housing is your own responsibility therefore it is important to plan ahead. Find out how and when to start your search and read other important tips and advice.

Start early!

Leiden and The Hague are attractive and popular student cities. It can therefore be difficult and time consuming to find inexpensive housing. It is essential that you start looking for housing as early as you can. Even before admission if possible.

Need a student residence permit? If so, finding housing early is even more important. Student residence permit holders must register at a Dutch town hall soon after arrival, for which you will need an official Dutch address. Failure to do so can result in the cancellation of your residence permit.

How to search for housing

Follow the steps and advice below to get your search off to a good start.

Before starting your search, make a realistic estimate of what you are prepared to pay. Take into consideration that rental prices in The Netherlands are quite high and that the most expensive areas are around Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Leiden and Utrecht.

Rough indication of monthly rental prices

Note that prices vary greatly depending on whether facilities are shared, how many housemates you will have and if water/gas/electricity are included.

  • Room in Leiden: € 350 - € 600
  • Room in The Hague: € 250 - € 500
  • Studio in Leiden or The Hague: € 600 - € 800
  • Apartment in Leiden or The Hague: € 650 - € 1000

Consider other towns

Don’t restrict your search to the cities of Leiden or The Hague. Take a look in the surrounding villages and towns, where you can often get better value for money. For example, if you are searching in the Leiden area you could consider Oegstgeest, Voorschoten and even the beach towns of Katwijk and Noordwijk. If you are searching in The Hague, you could take a look in Scheveningen and Leidschendam.

As soon as possible, register with non-profit housing organisations or platforms such as ROOM.NL (see below). Registration fees are generally not expensive. These organisations work with waiting lists, so the earlier you register, the greater your chance of getting a room by the start of the semester.

ROOM.NL housing platform 

ROOM.NL is a platform through which various non-profit housing organisations offer accommodation to students. There is a priority system in place for students moving to the region from far away, i.e. from other countries or the more distant areas of The Netherlands. So as an international student, you have a greater chance of getting a room.

Accommodation via ROOM.NL can be offered either as:

  • Regular student rental, or
  • Via a ‘vote-in’ procedure, known in Dutch as hospiteren, i.e. you will be interviewed for a place in a shared student house by the other occupants.

Other non-profit housing organisations

Leiden

The Hague

Various locations

Whilst trying to get a room via non-profit housing organisations, also take a look at commercial housing agencies. Visit their websites to find out what they have on offer and how they do business. Always check whether you have to pay a fee and familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations. You can also try using housing search engines.

Commercial housing agencies

Leiden

The Hague

Various locations

Housing search engines

  • If possible, stay with family or friends. Even if this is just till you get settled and have had time to search for your own place. This will make your start in The Netherlands that much easier.
  • Use your contacts. Do you already know people in The Netherlands? If so, ask them for help and advice.
  • Use social media. Students often use Facebook groups to offer and search for accommodation.
  • Temporary solutions. Have you found a place but can only move in later? You could consider staying in a holiday apartment or hostel but bear in mind that this can be very expensive.

Hostels and holiday rentals

Finding accommodation in Leiden or The Hague can be difficult. If you haven't found a place to live before leaving home, we strongly advise you not to come to Leiden University. Consider deferring your studies to allow yourself more time to find a place to stay.

Other important advice

Unfortunately, international students are sometimes targeted by scammers offering non-existent accommodation. Make sure you don’t fall victim to a rental scam by following the tips below.

When searching for housing:

  • Check the credentials of the advertiser:
    • Make sure the agency or landlord is who they say they are. Search online for reviews or warnings. Get their full contact details, including postal address. If you have a photo of the landlord/agent, do an online reversed image search. Scammers often use stolen or false identities.
    • If possible, meet the landlord or agent, or get a contact person in The Netherlands to do so for you.
    • Check the agency is listed on the Dutch Chamber of Commerce website (in Dutch, but simply enter the company name in the search bar to look for listings).
  • Check the property really exists:
    • Look for the address in Google Maps. Does the description in the ad match the actual location?
    • Compare the photos in the ad with Google Street View. Does the view from the window or the property style reflect what you would expect? Are features mentioned in the ad that don’t match the location, e.g. non-existent tram stops?
    • If possible, view the property in advance.
  • Look for suspiciously similar ads. Scammers often recycle text and images from old ads. Search for the exact text online or try a reversed image search.
  • Beware of properties that are much cheaper than others in the same area. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Beware of agencies or landlords who contact you first. Scammers often target people who have been looking for rooms via online platforms and social media.
  • Are you interested in a property but still have your suspicions? Check who actually owns the property by requesting digital proof of ownership (uitreksel eigendomsakte) for a small fee from the land registry website (Kadaster).

Warning signs

  • The agency or landlord:
    • Seems to be based outside the Netherlands.
    • Is vague, doesn’t want to answer your questions, or speaks very poor English or Dutch.
  • Payment and contracts:
    • You are pushed to sign the contract right away without having time to check it. Always check contracts carefully before signing! See the section rental contract advice
    • You are asked to pay costs well in advance, before you have even viewed the room or met the landlord.
    • You are asked to pay in cash, or transfer money to a non-Dutch bank account or via a service such as Western Union or MoneyGram.
    • You are asked to send a copy of your passport or ID in advance. Never send your official documents to people you do not know!

Other tips

If you have been scammed

So you think you’ve found a place to live. That’s great! Before signing your rental contract, read the following advice carefully.

  • Make sure you can register with your local town hall at the address. This is sometimes not the case, e.g. for sublet accommodation. 
  • If you are offered a contract in Dutch, always have it translated so you know what you are signing.
  • Check all the following are correctly stated on the contract: your details, those of your landlord, rental period, rental price, payment dates (and methods) and notice period.
  • Check what is included in your rent, e.g. gas, water, electricity, service costs, internet, local taxes etc.
  • Check whether you need to pay an agency fee, deposit or other additional fees. If a security deposit is required, find out how and when you can get it back. 
  • Check if the room is furnished. If so, are there additional costs for taking over the furnishings? Make sure an itinerary of contents is included in your agreement.
  • Check that the property has the standard safety provisions, such as smoke and CO2 detectors, fire extinguishers and a fire escape route.

Housing hotline

Want to ask questions about housing or voice your complaints? Contact the Housing hotline. This is an initiative of the Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and Erasmus Student Network (ESN), through which international students can request online advice on a range of housing issues. 

Huurteam Leiden (rental team Leiden)

Are you renting in Leiden and would you like to check whether you are paying too much rent and if essential maintenance is overdue? The municipality’s Huurteam Leiden (Leiden Rental Team) can check your property, scrutinise your contract, issue advice and in some cases even contact the landlord on your behalf. 

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