Quick tip – Most people did not own real estate

Historically, most people in the Netherlands did not own real estate. Most farmers were tenant farmers, often living on the same farm for generations. Others were seasonal laborers who moved from farm to farm every year. It is rare to find tenancy contracts or rental agreements as these things were usually arranged between the owner and the tenant without registration by a notary or court.

Meerdink farm

Meerdink farm in Winterswijk, Gelderland

In cities, many workers were too poor to own their own house and would have rented a room or house. You can sometimes find them mentioned if the owner is selling the house.

Depending on the type of record, the owner or the resident may be recorded. Population and census registers record the people who lived in a house, while property tax records list the owners.

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG®, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.


  1. Sandi Mohr says

    I just want you to know how much I enjoy your newsletter! Thank you for all the interesting articles. My grandparents were from Holland, and I have visited Holland once years ago, and I hope to go there again in the future. I love all the information you give us for free. I am grateful to you for sharing your knowledge with us.

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