The Dutch consumer authority ACM is threatening to fine three housing agencies in Eindhoven and Rotterdam for charging their clients for finding them a home.
Domica Eindhoven and Goeth Vastgoed in Eindhoven, plus Max Property Rentals in Rotterdam, have all been billling prospective tenants for various fees, even though this is not allowed by law.
The three companies have been given six weeks to change their way of working or face fines of €5,000 a week. All three, which were first warned about the practice in June, have said they will comply.
‘Rental housing agencies are not allowed to charge tenants fees if they are working on behalf of the landlord,’ ACM consumer affairs director Edwin van Houten said. ‘It does not matter if they call them administration fees, a deposit or entrance fee. It is banned and tenants are the victims.’
The costs the three companies charged prospective tenants were as high as €400 and these fees often had to be paid before the property could be visited, the ACM said.
Jasper de Groot, founder of online housing platform Pararius, told DutchNews.nl in June it should be completely clear to every real estate agent in the Netherlands under what specific conditions tenants can be charged a fee.
‘The market is mature and professional enough to survive without these malpractices,’ he said. ‘We work with a straightforward code of conduct that every agent has to accept before being admitted to make sure they respect the law.’
The agencies breaking the rules are having an impact on the reputation of the majority of agencies which do abide by the rules, he said. ‘I think it is sad but somehow inescapable that the ACM gets involved to separate the wheat from the chaff.’
Amsterdam housing advisory group Woon can help tenants reclaim fees which they may have been wrongly charged.
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