Fine of a hundred thousand euros for rental broker De Huissleutel for unjustified contract costs
The Tilburg rental broker De Huissleutel has been severely reprimanded by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets for charging tenants contract costs. For these unauthorized practices, the company was fined a hundred thousand euros.
De Huissleutel acts as an intermediary between home, studio, or room owners and tenants. In doing so, the company charged costs to both parties, the Authority for Consumers & Markets ruled, and that is not allowed. Potential tenants had to pay 35 euros to get on the website and, after finding accommodation, another 302.50 euros in contract costs.
“Contract costs are a persistent problem, one that has been around for all the years I’ve been here,” says Joris Jaspers, coordinator of the Rechtswinkel Tilburg. “As a tenant you have no choice: if you don’t pay you don’t get a house. They keep trying and it’s not just De Huissleutel.”
For years, the Rechtswinkel has been assisting tenants who want to reclaim these unjustified costs. And for that, you really have to be a persistent person, explains Jaspers. The brokers usually do not respond to the complaints. Even after a lost procedure, there is not always a refund and a bailiff has to be called in.
No brokerage fee
The Huissleutel acknowledges to the Authority for Consumers & Markets that these fees were charged but notes that they stopped doing so in March last year. The Dutch website, meanwhile, also states: “As a tenant, you do not pay a brokerage fee to De Huissleutel, even if you have actually accepted a residential property and are going to rent via De Huissleutel.”
This information is not yet available everywhere, however. On the English page mediation fees are still mentioned: “After you have paid the mediation fee, deposit and rent, the handing over of the keys will take place.”
Indeed, in recent months no complaints have been received about De Huissleutel at the Rechtswinkel, says Jaspers. Although he thinks it is too early to draw any conclusions. It often takes a while before a new tenant comes to the Rechtswinkel to get reimbursed for unauthorized costs.
Guys, stop it
In its defense to the Authority for Consumers & Markets, De Huissleutel also states that there are at least eight other rental brokers in Tilburg that also charge these kinds of fees. Jaspers also knows about this. “De Huissleutel is one of the big ones though. Most of the complaints we get about contract costs are about them.”
He hopes that after this fine, the other brokers will also change their practices. “Now it’s De Huissleutel’s turn. I hope that now the other parties will also start to follow the rules. Surely it is a sign: guys, stop it, it will not go unpunished.”