One of the things people buying an apartment in the Netherlands often overlook is the role of the Vereniging van Eigenaren (VvE) or the Homeowner’s Association. José de Boer from De Boer Financial Consultants tells you what you need to know about the VvE in the Netherlands.
I’ve come across several cases recently in which buyers have been hit with unexpected bills, but this can be avoided if you are aware of your rights and obligations with regard to the VvE. Your makelaar (real estate agent) and notary are better placed than I am to help you with questions about the VvE for a particular property, but there are some general things you should know.
What is the VvE?Every owner-occupied apartment block in the Netherlands has a VvE and its role is to represent the interests of all of the owners. If you live in a large complex, the VvE will have dozens – if not hundreds – of members and will probably be run by a private management company. If you live in a small complex, the VvE may have as few as two or three members who you will probably run into from time to time in the stairwell.
You will automatically become a member of your building’s VvE when you buy the property. The VvE is made up of a board that makes decisions about the property. Once a majority of members vote in favour of a motion – like painting the wood outside – all the members have to abide by the decision.
The VvE may also have a policy on renting out your home using a platform like Airbnb, on garden maintenance, or on the type of flooring you need to have to minimise noise. That will all be included in the house rules or the huishoudelijk reglement.
Apartments are differentIf you live in a traditional family home, the roof, foundations and everything in between will belong to you and it will be up to you to deal with the maintenance and any problems. But if you live in an apartment, you technically own a share in the building and that means that all the owners are responsible for the cost of repairs to the exterior and the communal areas. So, if you live in a basement flat and it starts leaking, it will probably be up to the VvE to pay the repair bill. Likewise, the cost of repairs to the roof will also be shared between the owners.
However, much depends on the legal document that splits the building into separate units – the splitsingsakte (deed of division) and the splitsingsreglement (division regulations) – and the VvE’s statutes.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have these checked out properly before you buy because these documents define your rights and obligations as a property owner. Your estate agent will look into this on your behalf and it is also worth asking your notary if there is anything in the documents that you should be aware of.
A VvE is also required to meet at least once a year and to keep proper minutes. Your notary will check out the VvE’s recent jaarcijfers (annual reports) and the notulen (minutes) of recent meetings to make sure it is financially secure. For example, your VvE should have a reserve fund which would be enough to pay for emergency repairs and general maintenance. If you are planning to buy into a late 19th century block with five apartments and no money in the bank, you are in for a lot of trouble if the roof gets blown off in a storm.
VvE monthly feeThe monthly fee you pay to the VvE includes funds for the maintenance reserves, electricity for lighting the common areas and anything else listed in the splitsingsakte and the splitsingsreglement. The VvE is also responsible for the building’s home insurance policy, so that will also be included in the service costs.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much you will pay, but you can expect to pay around 100 euros a month for a modest apartment in a small block – and more if your apartment is in a listed building or has additional facilities.
It might seem like a lot of money, but a well-functioning VvE, which has proper reserves and takes running the property seriously, is a tremendous asset to have. In fact, it may even be a plus when your mortgage provider is deciding how much you can borrow and how quickly your mortgage can go through – and that can only be a good thing!
Do you have any questions about the VvE or about mortgages in general? De Boer Financial Consultants helps expats in the Netherlands navigate the housing market and find the right mortgage plan for them. Get in touch with via the contact form below or call +31 (0)70 511 87 88.