English translation of: https://nos.nl/artikel/2386388-duizenden-aan-borg-niet-terug-na-einde-huur-verhuurder-probeert-t-gewoon and some notes of the editor (RentReturn).
“Commercial landlords of homes regularly do not return the deposit at the end of a rental contract, while there is nothing wrong with a home. That is what various organizations that assist tenants in conflicts with landlords say.
Because temporary rental contracts are becoming more and more common, (rogue) landlords also have the opportunity to withhold the deposit more often. “There are landlords who see it as an extra revenue model,” says Marcel Trip of the Woonbond. “We get a lot of complaints about this. Landlords often try to find something why they shouldn’t have to pay back the deposit and then hope that tenants don’t let it come to legal proceedings.”
It happens hundreds of times a year in Amsterdam alone, says Gert Jan Bakker of !Woon. This Amsterdam foundation helps tenants who have problems with their landlord. “It often involves shocking amounts. What is striking is that many expats have to deal with it. They often have to pay two to three times the rent as a deposit. And an apartment in Amsterdam quickly costs 2000 per month. Then you are talking about 4000 to 6000 euros.”
“Temporary contracts have become the norm, so after one or two years, the tenant is gone,” says Bakker. “Expats often go back to their country of origin or another international location. Such a landlord knows this and then thinks: why should I repay the deposit? But even if a tenant is now in Tokyo, we try to get that deposit back. get them back, with letters, collections and subpoenas.”
Request money back for months
The Spanish Elena (real name known to the editors) rented an apartment in Amsterdam with her partner. They had paid 3300 euros deposit, twice the monthly rent. “The house was in perfect condition. The landlord also said there was no problem at the end of the lease. We would get the deposit back within three months. We asked: why does it take three months if nothing is wrong? That was for tax reasons, they claimed. I didn’t believe that.”
She contacted !Woon, who advised her in a letter to reclaim the money within a month. “We also kept calling the landlord to ask where the money was, but we couldn’t speak to him. The secretary always said she would pass it on.”
Even after three months, they had transferred nothing. “Then we threatened we would take legal action. Then we finally got our money back. I spoke to someone who also rented from them and said they do this more often. They just try it and hope tenants do it that way leave.”
Are legal steps worth taking?
It is also common in other cities. “We are seeing an increase in the number of reports, which may be partly because we are more focused on them,” says Fleur van Leeuwen of Urbannerdam. This agency helps tenants on behalf of ten municipalities, including Rotterdam, Utrecht and Leiden. [ed. of course, we, at RentReturn could help you too with the deposit problem.]
“We support victims by summoning the landlord to repay the deposit, sometimes successfully,” says Van Leeuwen. “People can also start legal proceedings. They must then consider whether the costs outweigh the possible profit. [ed. at RentReturn we work with different methods; no cure, no pay does not require any upfront payments. You can also choose for the service of writing a letter to your former landlord or decide to donate your claim. It depends on your situation. Want to know more? Request a free contract check so we can inform you about your options.] From a deposit of about 500 euros, it pays to hire a lawyer.”
Damage or wear and tear
Often the landlord seizes a certain amount of damage to keep the deposit. “But he must then prove that it is really new damage caused by the tenant,” says Gert Jan Bakker of !Woon.
Tenants are advised to carry out an inspection together with the landlord at the beginning and end of the lease and to record the condition of the apartment, for example with photos. [ed. it is advised to the landlord, but as a tenant it is best to not request this as it would be in your benefit if you don’t have any checks with the landlord. Read in our blog about what we do advise to tenants.] “But a new scratch on the floor does not mean that the landlord can withhold a deposit,” says Bakker. “Something like this falls under normal wear and tear. It must be real damage, for example, if you kicked a door.”
In the UK, an independent third party manages the deposit. That should prevent illegal content. Last November, GroenLinks submitted a motion to introduce such a system in the Netherlands. [ed. This already exists in the Netherlands and is called Bankgarantie.] That motion was then rejected.’