If you live in the Netherlands and are struggling to pay your rent on your current income, then you may be entitled to rent benefits, otherwise known as Huurtoeslag.
The Dutch tax authorities (Belastingdienst) provide 4 different types of what is known as ‘Toeslagen’ – translated to allowances, surcharges, or benefits – to low income individuals which are a government contribution towards their living expenses.
In this post, we will explain how the rent benefit works, whether you qualify, and how to apply for the benefits.
Huurtoeslag: rental allowance (also known as housing allowance, housing benefit, rent benefit, or rent subsidy)
Zorgtoeslag: health insurance allowance
Kinderopvangtoeslag: childcare allowance
Kindgebonden budget: child-related budget
For each allowance type, there is a specific amount of money that your income cannot exceed to be eligible for them. In theory, you can receive housing benefits while working, but the higher your income is, the less amount of housing allowance you receive. Furthermore, qualifying for rent benefit matters with your income in combination with your age and the composition of your housing.
You can use the free rent allowance calculator on the Belastingdienst website (in Dutch) to determine whether your income entitles you to any of the four benefits.
This calculator will also tell you the maximum amount of housing benefit you will receive, as this varies per individual based on specific circumstances.
For most young professionals and/or international students who are working, the priority is on the rent and health insurance benefit. Because it is mandatory to take out Dutch health insurance as soon as you start working any job in the Netherlands, the insurance premium combined with exorbitant rent prices can take a toll on an entry-level salary. It is therefore beneficial to receive insurance and/or housing benefit while working.
Of course, if someone’s personal situation changes to include a child then this can additionally provide the need for childcare allowances.
Eligibility for Housing Benefits
For our student readers, there are no special rules for student housing benefit. The following conditions of toeslagen apply to everyone.
Aside from income, several other requirements are taken into account in determining your eligibility. The most important for deciding how much you receive depends on your age and the amount of rent you pay for your accommodation. If your calculated rent is too high, you will not receive any allowance.
In 2023, the calculated rent limits are split into two age groups (amounts are likely to change every year):
- Ages 23 and above: 808,06 euros
- Between the ages 18 and 23: 452,20 euros
The calculated rent is composed of both the basic rent and the cost of utilities. You should be able to find this total amount in your rental agreement. To be clear, the service costs refer to utilities like water, internet, and energy costs, not maintenance, reparations, or cleaning costs.
Your eligibility is additionally influenced by your level of capital and whether you have an allowance or benefit partner. Concerning capital, your total amount in savings and investments should not exceed 33.748 euros (for 2023).
If you have an allowance partner – who is usually your registered partner or spouse living at the same address as you; but you can also use a test calculator to determine whether you have one if you don’t live with your romantic partner – then this will also impact if you qualify for rent allowance and how much.
Composition of Your Household
You can only receive rent benefit for an independent accommodation (for example, an apartment, studio, or terraced house) and this must meet certain conditions. The composition of your household must be so that you have your own kitchen, your own bathroom, and most important: your own front door (private entrance that only you as the sole tenant can lock from the inside and outside).
For international students in particular, it is important to know that if you share your kitchen and toilet with other residents, then this is not an independent living space. Because of this, most student housing complexes are ineligible for housing allowance.
However, at the Citylifer, despite being a coliving space, our members still have the opportunity to be eligible for housing allowance because each member has their own independent apartment with a private entrance and bathroom. For the members living in our Nomad and Nest apartments, you also have a fully-equipped kitchen. Being a Citylifer has never felt so good!
How to Apply for Rent Benefit
Do you already know you meet all the requirements for the allowance? Before you can apply, you must already be registered in a Dutch municipality (i.e., contain a valid residence permit) so that you receive a Dutch social security number and register your home address.
Once you have attained these details, only then can you apply for a Dutch bank account to ensure that you can actually receive the benefit payment. You cannot apply for rent allowance before these steps. To make your life a little easier, we’ve written a blog post about arranging a Dutch bank account:
Then, with your BSN number, you must apply for a DigiD. Consider this a digital identification system for the Netherlands. If you have an allowance partner, then you both need to apply for a DigiD. This process usually takes a few days because you will receive a letter by post to confirm your registered address and complete the application process.
Once you’ve made your DigiD, you can use it to login to most Dutch government websites where you need to manage your affairs.
Apply Directly on 'MijnToeslagen'
The official government website for allowances provides a link where you need to use your DigiD to login into the application portal (all in Dutch).
Under the housing allowance (‘huurtoeslag’) tab, click apply (‘toepassen’).
Some questions will arise where you will already need to know and fill in the amount of rent of your housing (basic rent plus service costs), your calculated income and that of your possible benefit partner.
After filling in this form completely you can typically already see how much rent benefit you will receive based on your answers. Finalise the application with the ‘apply’ button and the application should be confirmed! If somehow the information you put in changed sometime after your application, you can always log back in and contact the organisation of the necessary changes.
Don’t forget! If you need any more allowances, for example, for health insurance or child-related, you can also apply for this in the same MijnToeslagen portal.
When Will I Receive the Housing Allowance?
You will usually will hear back about the results of your toeslag application via e-mail within 5 weeks. If something is wrong or they need more information, this can take even longer – up to 13 weeks. So make sure you know you’re eligible for benefits!
If your application is successful, the payments of your rent benefit (and all other allowances) will occur monthly on the same day, which is usually the 20th of each month. If you apply for rent allowance past this date, then you will need to wait for the next payment day. So it’s important to apply at least a few weeks before your first rent payment is due.
Cancelling the Rent Benefit
Has your income or monthly rent changed? Do you no longer need the rent allowance and/or no longer entitled to it? Simply log back into the MijnToeslagen portal and cancel it. You can choose to cancel it from a specific date or as soon as possible.
Paying the Rent Benefit Back
At the end of each calendar year you will receive a document from the Belastingdienst stating how much allowance you received that year. If you received too much allowance (a surcharge), then an additional invoice will be sent where you will have to pay some of it back. However, if the amount is less than 100 euros, then this does not need to be paid!
To prevent such return payments, make sure to report any financial changes as soon as possible in the MijnToeslag portal. This mainly includes changes to your income or rent amounts.
If you are unable to repay any surcharges because of your financial situation, then you can request a personal payment arrangement. The arrangement will allow you to repay part of your surcharge each month, up to a maximum of 24 months, until you have repaid your entire invoice.
Summing Up Toeslagen
Don’t let high rent prices and a low income discourage you from coming to the Netherlands and becoming a member with us! To briefly recap, you are entitled to housing allowance if you meet the following conditions:
Your income and overall capital is not too high.
Your age is at least 18 or 23.
Your household has a private, locked entrance that you can enter with private amenities.
Your rent does not exceed a certain amount.
With a BSN number, bank account, and DigiD, you’ve got all that you need to apply for any and all allowances! Ready to get started?