18 January 2017
THE NETHERLANDS: Unjust Agency Fees
For many years, expat tenants in Amsterdam have been charged agency fees when they rented an apartment. Often these fees can be as much as a month's rent and, although this practice was extremely common, it was usually not legal. During the last years we have noticed that the situation in Amsterdam had got better and we didn’t encounter these issues with our expat customers anymore. However, we see that in other locations, such as Eindhoven the unjust agency fee is still a major problem as the estate agents do not accept tenants who don’t want to pay these fees.
According to Dutch law, letting agencies cannot represent both the landlord and the tenant at the same time because of their conflicting interests: landlords prefer higher rents, tenants prefer lower rents. Some expat tenants were willing to take legal action and won their refunds.
In October of 2015 the High Court (Hoge Raad) issued a very clear verdict: if the agency is representing the landlord (which is almost always the case) tenants are not obliged to pay commission, agency fees, contract-costs, or whatever these cost might be called. If tenants have been unjustly charged they can demand a refund.
Currently, most agencies in Amsterdam no longer charge a full month's rent, and no longer refer to so-called "agency fees", "courtage", or "bemiddelingskosten". They usually now charge around €300 - €400 in so-called "contract fees" or similar. This is still not legal, but it is a lot less likely tenants will start court procedures over these relatively smaller sums.