How To Reclaim Illegal Agency Fees?

TL;DR

A broker may only charge costs if you ask him to look for a room or home that is not part of his own housing offer. Does an intermediary (also) work for a landlord? Then he may not charge the tenant any costs. This also applies if the landlord does not pay for mediation. (source: Rijksoverheid)

What Are Agency Fees?

Agency fees are costs that an agency/broker charges to bring a landlord and tenant together. This also includes signing the lease and handing over the keys.

The rental agency often makes you pay these fees prior to renting the accommodation. These fees come in different terms, such as, but not limited to;

In Dutch:

  • bemiddelingskosten;
  • courtagekosten;
  • sleutelgeld;
  • administratiekosten;
  • advieskosten;
  • commissiekosten;
  • contractkosten;
  • eenmalige kosten huurder;
  • makelaarskosten;
  • marketingkosten;
  • verhuurkosten.

In English:

  • Administration fees;
  • Legal advice fees;
  • Administration costs;
  • Agent fees;
  • Tenancy renewal fees;
  • Application fees;
  • Tenancy fees;
  • Credit checks fees;
  • Background check fees;

All the above-mentioned fees are unjust agency fees unless you instructed the agency to find your accommodation without his own housing portfolio. All agent activities regarding the rental contract or the accommodation are covered by the landlord. You should not pay any agency costs or additional costs besides the basic rent and service charges such as gas, water, electricity, internet and taxes.

When Does The Agency Work For A Landlord?

Does the rental agency or broker offer homes for rent from a landlord? Then he works according to the law on behalf of that landlord. The mediator (agency) is not allowed to charge the tenant for mediation costs. This also applies if the landlord does not pay for the mediation. Serving 2 masters is not allowed. This also applies if the real estate agent or intermediary places the house as ‘for rent’ on his website. This was determined by the Supreme Court in a ruling on brokerage costs.

You can recognise them by the following; 

  • They approach you on social media;
  • The apartment is being offered on their own website;
  • The apartment is being advertised on social media by the agency;
  • The apartment is listed by the agency on other platforms, such as Funda.

Case Study

You are strolling on Facebook and notice a housing post from a rental agency. You eagerly contact the rental agency to see if the given accommodation is still available. The broker informs you that the apartment is still available. You ask for viewing, and the viewing went well. You are ready to sign the tenancy agreement.

The agency informs you about the agency fees because they viewed with you and checked your documents to make sure you are eligible for the apartment. The fee is one-month rent excl. 21%. Given the apartment rent is 1500 EUR, the agency fee they ask from you is 1500 EUR + 21%, which makes a total of 1815 EUR!

What are you going to do? You have three options;

  1. You tell them that those fees are illegal and you will not pay them. They are impressed with your knowledge about the Dutch rental law. They waive the agency fees, and you get the apartment.
  2. You tell them that those fees are illegal and you will not pay them. They will find a reason to decline the apartment offer. You will have to continue your housing search.  
  3. You accept the injustice, pay the agency fees and get the apartment.

In this case, you found the offer on Facebook. The agency posted the apartment on Facebook. This is proof that the apartment is in the current housing portfolio of the agency. They wouldn’t post a random apartment up for rent. 

I Am Going To Pay Agency Fees Because I want The Accommodation

We understand that in case of an emergency, time limit or any other reason, you’d choose option 3, as mentioned above. You need housing and can’t bear to go through the same process again.

So What To Do When You Go For Option 3 And Will Pay The Unjust Agency Fees?
You accept the injustice, pay the agency fees and get the apartment. 

We will explain to you what you need to do to reclaim back the illegal agency fees;

  1. Save the evidence (FB post/advertisement on their website and such) in the Wayback Machine.
  2. Ensure all communication with the agency is in writing, either e-mail, WhatsApp or any other form of writing. 
  3. Ask for an invoice of the agency fees.
  4. Transfer the agency fees by bank transfer. NEVER pay in cash. If you must, make sure you get a receipt or bring a witness. In the latter, make video recordings of the transaction.
  5. Sign the tenancy agreement. 
  6. Check in the apartment.
  7. Contact the agency again and ask for a reimbursement of the paid illegal agency fees.
  8. Tell them you will consult with a lawyer if they do not reimburse you the illegal agency fees. 

In some cases, the agency will reimburse you the agency fees. However, in many cases, they won’t. They simply don’t take you seriously as an individual and rather take their chances with that lawyer. This is because they hope you won’t push forward with the lawyer. After all, you have to pay for these legal services. They hope that you won’t go through because you do not want to make any more costs without any guarantee of getting back the agency fees. And if you do get some back, how much would that be? Is it worth all the time and effort you have put into it?

What Can Rent Return Do For Me?

Rent Return offers different kind of services, such as, but not limited to;

  1. Write a letter to the agency on your behalf. This requires an upfront payment.
  2. Provide services based on ‘no cure, no pay’. This does not require any upfront payments, but this may not yield as much revenue as option 1. In this option, you only pay for the services if the reimbursement of the paid agency fees is successful. How much you pay depends on your situation and case. 
  3. An assignment or a transfer of a claim is the transfer of a claim by name. If you have a registered claim against another party and cannot or does not wish to collect this claim himself, you can transfer or assign the claim to a third party, in this case to us, Rent Return.
  4. Donate the claim to us. If the claim is of a low amount or if your case is very complex, there is little to no interest from our side to work based on ‘no cure, no pay’ or buy the claim from you. However, we understand that sometimes it’s no longer about getting back the money but about getting justice. You’d rather get no money back, and have the agency lose that money than having the agency keep the illegal agency fees. In this case, we either go after your claim or wait until we gathered more claims from others against the same agency, so we can file for a joint procedure.

Do you need help with reclaiming illegal agency fees? Upload your contract for free so we can evaluate your situation and inform you about the possibilities.