Landlords dodging Dutch rental rules to charge tenants higher rates
Research conducted by NOS op 3 has revealed that landlords across the Netherlands are bypassing the points system put in place by the Dutch government in order to cap prices on some rental properties. In doing so, landlords are able to charge tenants - specifically those renting rooms in a shared house - higher rates.
Dutch landlords bypassing points system to overcharge tenants
In the Netherlands, points are used in order to determine the rental prices for properties in the social sector, as well as non-self-contained living spaces (i.e. rooms in a house or apartment, where tenants share a kitchen and / or bathroom).
As explained by the Rent Tribunal (Huurcommissie), the total number of points for each living space is based on the size of the bedroom and kitchen and the status of the property (i.e. is the building a national monument), and determines “the maximum rent of the accommodation”. This means that landlords are limited in how much rent they can charge.
However, according to NOS op 3’s investigation, landlords across the country are circumventing these rules through a loophole in rental contracts, thereby allowing them to charge higher rates. The issue is especially prevalent in big cities, and students are the most likely to fall victim to the scam.
Shared rental contracts leading to higher rates for students
Landlords of shared accommodation, such as student housing, are making use of one rental contract for all housemates, meaning there is typically one central tenant who is responsible for transferring the total monthly rent to the landlord. Other tenants simply transfer their portion of the rent to the bank account belonging to the central tenant.
By only having one rental contract for non-self-contained properties, NOS explains that landlords are able to “keel the rooms outside the points system.” Instead, they “rent out the entire house as an independent residence,” thereby allowing them to “ask for higher rents” and preventing tenants from appealing the costs through the Rent Tribunal.
A survey conducted by NOS op 3 among over 2.000 students found that a quarter of tenants say they have this kind of rental contract for their property. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the figure rose to above 50 percent.
Lawyer defends landlords: "Points system is outdated"
Johnny Hendriks from Huurteam Nederland told NOS that young people are especially vulnerable, as “they often don’t know what they are signing for.” According to him, the severe housing shortage and high rental prices mean students generally take the rooms at a higher rate than should be expected, simply because they have no other options.
Huib Hielkema, a real estate lawyer, has defended landlords’ decisions, even going so far as to advise landlords to opt for group contracts for shared properties. “The points system for rooms is outdated, so you barely cover the mortgage, let alone other costs,” he explained, adding that the system also has its benefits for the tenants, allowing them some freedom in selecting their roommates and determining the rates for each room.
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