Reclaim OverPaid Service Costs

TL;DR

  • Service costs are costs that are in addition to the basic rent of accommodation.
  • All service costs are upfront/monthly advance payments. The landlord is obliged to provide you with an overview of the actual usage/costs (annual settlement).
  • By the Dutch rental law, it is not allowed for the landlord to make any profit on service costs.
  • If you have an all-in rental price, your tenancy agreement should show a breakdown of all the costs.
  • Contact us to discuss your situation and to claim your annual settlement or to reclaim your overpaid service costs.

What Are Service Costs In The Netherlands?

When renting in the Netherlands, the total rent price is often the basic rent and service costs combined. The basic rent is the rent price for the accommodation itself, and the service costs are the additional expenses such as, but not limited to;

  • Gas; With your own meter: The heating costs consisting of the expenses for gas or another form of energy – may be passed on by the landlord to the tenant. Without your own meter: The total costs incurred, divided by an agreed or reasonable distribution key.
  • Electricity; With your own meter: Only the costs for electricity in the living space, of which the tenant has his own meter may be passed on by the landlord to the tenant. Without your own meter: The total costs incurred, divided by an agreed or reasonable distribution key.
  • Water; With your own meter: Only the costs for water consumption in the living space, of which the tenant has his own meter. Without your own meter: The total costs incurred, divided by an agreed or reasonable distribution key.
  • Internet; The landlord may pass on the costs for a subscription to radio, television and internet to the tenant. The landlord may also pass on the costs for electronic equipment, required to receive and transmit the signal, and an alarming telephone in the lift to the tenant.
  • Upholstery and furniture; Suppose a landlord makes the movable property available to a tenant at the entrance of the lease, such as curtains or a refrigerator. In that case, the landlord may request a user fee for those movable properties. The amount of the user fee is fixed based on purchase invoices and based on the expected lifespan.
  • Window cleaning; In principle, the tenant cleans the outside windows that the tenant can reach. If the landlord cleans the glasses himself or hires a window cleaner, the landlord may only pass on the labour costs – i.e. window cleaning – to the tenant. This only applies to the windows that the tenant can reach. The costs of making inaccessible windows accessible – for example, by hiring a cherry picker – are borne by the landlord.
  • Cleaning drainage and ventilation duct; In principle, the tenant will clean drainage and ventilation ducts in the home that the tenant can access. If the landlord carries out this work or has it carried out, the landlord may pass on the costs to the tenant.
  • Garden maintenance; If a garden within or around a complex is “public” (i.e. accessible to everyone), the maintenance costs are for the account of the landlord. If a garden within or around a complex is only accessible to residents (tenants), the landlord can pass on the maintenance costs to the tenants. The costs are divided equally over the number of homes in the building/complex. If the tenant has a “viewing garden”, that is, the tenant can see the garden but cannot enter the garden, the tenant cannot maintain the garden. That is why the maintenance costs for a “viewing garden” are borne by the landlord.
  • Some maintenance installation; Technical installations, such as collective heating, which are attached to the building and form part of the living space, are classified as immovable property. The landlord is obliged to maintain the technical installations. These costs and the costs for minor maintenance and inspection costs of technical facilities are for the account of the landlord. Maintenance of mechanical ventilation in the home is also at the expense of the landlord. Some technical installations have a 24-hour service. The tenant can then report a malfunction 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. The costs for this extra service are borne by the tenant. There are technical installations, such as an individual central heating system or mechanical ventilation, which are located in the tenant’s home. The lessor may pass on the minor maintenance to this technical installation to the tenant. The tenant must carry out these maintenance work himself, such as topping up and bleeding an individual heating installation. No specialist knowledge may be required for this maintenance, and there may be no significant costs involved. If the tenant does not want to or cannot do this, the landlord may carry out this maintenance work and pass it on to the tenant.
  • Unclog pipes and sewers; In principle, the tenant does the cleaning and maintenance of pipes and sewers himself. If the landlord carries out these activities, the landlord may pass on these maintenance costs to the tenant. The landlord may only do this if the pipes or sewers are in the tenant’s living space and if the tenant has access to them himself. If the sewers and pipes are connected to several independent houses, the maintenance costs will be borne by the landlord. If there are maintenance costs due to a technical defect, such as leakage, the costs will be paid by the lessor.
  • Bulb replacements; In principle, the tenant is responsible for replacing and repairing lamps in the home. If the landlord carries out these activities, the landlord may pass on the costs to the tenant. If the lamps in the common areas, such as galleries and corridors, are (have to be) replaced, the landlord may pass on the costs to the tenant. These costs are divided equally over the number of homes in the building/complex. Lamp maintenance includes: replacing lamps, fluorescent tubes and starters and repairing caps and switches. The costs for the replacement of luminaires, the renewal of installations, the repairs to installations and the repairs to damaged lamps caused by vandalism are borne by the lessor.
  • Pest control; In principle, the tenant can combat vermin in the home himself. If the landlord controls the vermin, the landlord may pass on the costs to the tenant. The landlord may pass on the costs for pest control in a complex to the tenants. If the tenant is bothered by vermin due to a structural situation – and the tenant can prove that it is due to the structural problem – then the costs are for the account of the landlord.
  • Insurances; The landlord may only pass on the contents and glass insurance to the tenant.
  • Fire extinguisher; A fire extinguisher is important for both the tenant and the landlord. That is why half of the maintenance costs are for the account of the tenant(s) and the other half for the account of the lessor.
  • Cleaning common areas; In principle, the tenant cleans common areas himself. If the landlord carries out the cleaning work or hires a cleaner, the landlord may pass on the cleaning costs to the tenant.
  • Painting work; If the landlord paints the house inside to make it rentable, the costs are for the landlord. If the landlord paints the house at the request of the tenant – when entering into the lease – then the landlord may pass on the costs as a usage fee to the tenant for a period of five or ten years. If the landlord paints the common areas of shared living spaces, the landlord may pass on the costs to the tenants via an allocation key.

If you are renting with an all-in rental price, your tenancy agreement should show a break down of all the costs and specifically state the basic rent. It is by rental law not allowed to only mention an all-in rent price. All service costs are upfront/monthly advance payments. This means that if you are paying directly to the landlord or agency, the landlord is obliged to provide you with an overview of the actual usage/costs (annual settlement). It is not allowed by the Dutch rental law for the landlord to make any profit on service costs.

How Are Service Costs Calculated?

When you receive your rental agreement, the service costs mentioned are always an estimation as you cannot know the actual usage/costs. You can only know the exact usage after you have used these services. Therefore, the landlord is required to hand-over the annual settlement at the end of each year or the end of your stay, whichever comes first. Gas, water, electricity and internet are the most common service costs which landlord charge tenants with.

What Is The Average Electricity Bill In The Netherlands?

The estimated service costs for normal monthly usage when renting a property of 90m2 with a household of three persons (2 adults + 1 child) are;

  • Gas and electricity (Essent); 90 EUR
  • Water (Dunea); 25 EUR
  • Internet (Ziggo): 60 EUR

Which comes to a total of 195 EUR per month for the service costs. When renting a room in a shared household, these costs will be distributed amongst the other tenants. In case you are sharing with two other tenants, the following numbers will be recommended for normal usage (3 adults);

  • Gas and electricity (Essent); 110 EUR
  • Water (Dunea); 25 EUR
  • Internet (Ziggo): 60 EUR

Which comes to a total of 65 EUR per person, per month for the service costs. The estimated monthly amount of service costs are not laid down by rental law but should be an appropriate estimation.

Why Is Gas So Expensive In The Netherlands?

As you can see, the monthly service costs are mostly made up of gas and electricity. In general, approximately 62% of the monthly energy bill is by gas usage. When it comes to international students and expats, it might even be more. They are either used to a warm country and like to turn on the heater, don’t think about the heating costs or simply forget to turn off the heater. Sometimes, they are confused about an all-in rental price. They assume all usage is covered by the monthly rent and they use the utilities without thinking too much about it.

However, it would be better to turn off the heater before you go to bed or when you leave the accommodation. Gas is expensive in the Netherlands because the government tax gas usage more than electricity usage. The government wants to reduce the gas usage to 0 in 2030.

What Does The Dutch Rental Law Say About Service Costs?

As mentioned before, according to Dutch rental law, the service costs must reflect the actual charges; the landlord may not make any profit on these costs. Service costs may not be charged for matters such as built-in appliances or double glazing; these items are included in the base rent. The landlord must provide the annual settlement at the end of the year. Also, if you are leaving before the end of the year, the landlord must give you an overview of your usage. The landlord has until 1 July of each year to do so. Tenants who have overpaid in their advance must receive the excess portion. E.g. The total rent price is 500 EUR from what 200 EUR is set as service costs. At the end of the year, you have paid 2400 EUR extra besides the flat rental price. If the actual annual charges for the g/w/e and internet would result in 1500 EUR, then it would mean that you overpaid 900 EUR in service costs.

What Can You Do When You Overpaid Service Costs?

It’s a tenants’ right in the Netherlands to receive an annual service cost settlement. If the landlord never provided you with an overview of the annual service cost settlement, then RentReturn can help you retrieve these costs.  We can do this for your current tenancy agreement but also if you moved out already, we can do this retroactively for the previous years. This is possible within 2,5 year of the calendar year to which it relates. So, in this current year 2020, we can retrieve the overpaid service costs for 2018 and 2019 and 2020. If you haven’t received a (yearly) settlement or if you did, but you doubt the calculations of the landlord then upload your documents so we can examine the settlement together.