+ Is there a maximum rent for every property?
For almost all properties, there is a maximum rent that can be calculated using the housing valuation system.
There is one exception, however. For independent properties which, at the beginning of the rental agreement, had a rental price higher than the liberalization limit at that time, there are no maximum rental prices.
However, there is also an exception to this, namely if the rent of an independent accommodation with a rent above the liberalization limit is reviewed and reduced by the Rent Tribunal within six months of the start of the rental agreement. Then the rent will be below the liberalization limit and the housing valuation system will again apply to calculate the maximum rent.
+ What is rent liberalization?
Liberalization applies only to independent properties, not to rooms. This term actually indicates whether the property you are renting can be classified as social housing or falls under the free sector.
A rental home is liberalized if the basic rent on the effective date of the first rental agreement is higher than the liberalization limit at that time. With a liberalized rental home there is no maximum rental price and the housing valuation system does not apply.
The rent allowance limit is always equal to the liberalization limit. Therefore, with a liberalized contract you are not entitled to rent allowance. Below you can find the liberalization limit in recent years:
2021 - € 752,33
2020 - € 737,14
2019 - € 720,42
+ How is the maximum rent calculated?
The maximum rent of a property is determined objectively on the basis of the housing valuation system. This is also often referred to as the system of points.
At various rent checks you can check whether your rent is appropriate for your living situation. In these checks you have to fill in information about things like your living space, the general facilities and the energy index.
+ Where can I find the rent check to check my rent?
Do you live in a self-contained dwelling with its own entrance door? Then you can fill out the Rent Assessment for self-contained accommodations at the Rent Tribunal.
Do you not have your own entrance door and do you share the kitchen or bathroom with other tenants? Then you are living in non-self-contained housing and you can fill out the Rent Assessment for non-self-contained housing at the Rent Tribunal.
+ What can I do if my rent is too high?
If the score shows that you are paying too much rent, you can report this to Rent Support Center Groningen. An employee of the Rent Support Center can come to you and do a score check again.
If it is clear that you are paying too much rent, there are several ways to lower your rent. First, the Rent Support Center Groningen can mediate between you and your landlord. Second, the Rent Support Center can help you start a procedure with the Rent Tribunal.
+ Within what time frame can I check my rent?
If you have been living in your house for less than six months, it is possible to check the initial rent. Even after six months the rent can still be assessed.
More expensive homes above the liberalization limit are an exception. In that case the rent can only be assessed in the first six months after the start of the rental agreement. After these six months it is no longer possible to submit a review procedure.
+ Can I do something against rent increases?
The rent may only be increased once a year or twice every two years. If you do not agree with the rent increase, you can object to the landlord.
If you object, it is important that you do not pay the rent increase yet. This could give the impression that you have agreed to the rent increase. This will reduce your chances of getting justice.
The landlord must then do something with your objection. The landlord may decide to waive the rent increase or submit it to the Rent Tribunal for a test of reasonableness.
+ Is a broker allowed to charge intermediary fees?
Sometimes a broker is entitled to intermediary fees. For example, if you let a broker search for a residence for you, that broker then finds a suitable residence and you decide to rent that residence.
Often, however, a broker is not entitled to intermediary fees. For example, if the broker already works for the landlord and offers housing on behalf of the landlord. In that case, the broker is not allowed to charge the tenant mediation fees, even if the landlord does not pay any costs to the broker either. This applies to social housing, homes in the free sector and rooms.
+ How about contract costs, registration fees or key money?
Sometimes intermediary fees or brokerage fees are called differently. Examples are contract costs, registration fees, agency fees, key money or costs for administration. In many cases tenants are not supposed to pay these costs.
+ When are intermediary fees not valid?
The costs charged by a landlord may not exceed the actual costs incurred by the landlord in concluding the rental agreement. This is because the landlord would then be gaining an 'unreasonable advantage'.
If the landlord demonstrably did charge more, it is invalid. This means that the costs paid by the tenant can be reclaimed.
+ Can a broker intermediate for both tenant and landlord?
Yes, that is possible. In that case it is a case of 'serving two parties’. When 'serving two parties’, brokers are not allowed to charge the tenant an intermediary fee. Whether or not the mediator receives a fee from the landlord has no influence on this.
+ Where can I get help to recover mediation costs?
If you are unsure about certain costs, you can ask the broker or landlord for an explanation. If you do not get a good explanation or if it is clear that the costs charged are higher than the actual costs incurred by the broker or landlord when concluding the agreement, you have the right to claim your money back.
You can contact the Rent Support Center Groningen to explain your specific situation. An employee of the Rent Support Center can then give advice and help with a possible recovery.
+ Can I still claim back my intermediary costs years later?
In principle, you can reclaim the intermediary costs paid (or contract costs, registration fees, mediation costs, key money or costs for administration, etc.) up to 5 years after payment. After that the claim is time-barred.
All-in rental prices
+ I have an all-in rental price, what does that mean?
An all-in price means that the landlord only gives you a total amount for the rent. This way you don't know what your bare rent is and what you pay for service costs, for example.
All-in rents are not desirable. With only a total price you cannot determine whether the bare rent is justified or whether you are possibly paying too high an advance for the service costs.
+ Can an all-in lease be liberalized?
An all-in price can never be liberalized because the bare rent is unknown. The bare rent is essential to determine whether it is a liberalized rental property. For the same reason an all-in price may, in principle, not be increased.
+ How do I split my all-in rental price?
You can request your landlord to divide the all-in price into the bare rent and service costs. If the landlord does not honor that request, you can contact Rent Support Center Groningen.
The Rent Support Center can mediate with your landlord or help you present the case to the Rent Tribunal. That process could result in a lower rent.
+ What maintenance is the landlord responsible for?
It is the landlord's duty to maintain the property properly. That means you can call on your landlord to make major repairs. You can also expect a landlord to do maintenance from time to time.
The landlord takes care of the major, periodic maintenance. Examples include repairing a leaking roof, maintaining exterior painting, and replacing a central heating boiler.
+ What maintenance is the tenant responsible for?
The tenant takes care of the minor, day-to-day maintenance. Examples include fixing a dripping faucet, keeping the flue clean, and washing accessible windows.
+ What am I allowed to do to my rental property?
As a tenant you are not allowed to change all or part of the furnishings or appearance of the rented property. This is only allowed if it concerns changes and additions that can be undone or removed without significant costs at the end of the lease. The landlord can make larger alterations with the tenant's permission.
+ How do I ensure that the landlord does maintenance?
There are several ways to do this. First, you should report the defects (in writing) to the landlord. This enables the landlord to do something about it.
If the landlord does not address the problem, then Rent Support Center Groningen can help you by mediating between you and your landlord. If mediation does not help, the Rent Support Center can initiate proceedings for you with the Rent Tribunal. As a last resort, it is also possible to enforce maintenance through court.
+ As a tenant, should I allow changes to the property?
A tenant must allow work to be carried out in the property when it comes to maintenance or repairs. A landlord has to take into account the wishes and the enjoyment of the tenant.
Changes to the property do not always have to be accepted by the tenant. The tenant and the landlord can negotiate about this. Sometimes improvements are pleasant, even if they are offset by a reasonable rent increase. However, sometimes a landlord asks for more increase than the tenant is willing to pay. Then the Rent Tribunal can give a ruling on a reasonable amount for an agreed improvement.
In principle, an improvement is not carried out if the tenant does not want it. In the case of an improvement to a larger building with more tenants, an improvement will go ahead if at least 70% of the tenants are in favor of it.
+ Will I have to leave my home during construction?
Major work may require you to move out of your home temporarily or even permanently. In case of a temporary move out, the landlord can offer you a change of residence. You will then return to your original home after the renovation.
For a permanent removal there are different rules. The starting point is that the tenant has the choice to be evicted. This means that the law allows the tenant to impose requirements for this relocation: a suitable home according to their wishes and compensation.
It may also be the case that the landlord offers you an urban renewal permit. In that case, you are also entitled to replacement housing and have priority when registering for a new rental property.
+ Is it wise to cooperate with the neighbors when renovating?
This is certainly wise, if the neighbors are also tenants of the same landlord. Usually you are stronger together. For large renovations a residents' committee is usually formed, supported by experts in the field of tenancy law. That group can negotiate with the landlord to agree on the terms of the renovation.
+ Is it wise to seek advice if the landlord wants to renovate?
This is certainly wise. It is important to first think about the proposal calmly and then make good agreements. It is also wise to have these agreements checked and properly recorded.
+ What can I do about heating costs with poor efficiency?
If there is a collective installation for a block of houses, you can ask the Rent Tribunal for a test of reasonableness. The result may be that you only have to pay part of the original costs. This is because it is up to the landlord to ensure an installation with a reasonable return.
+ Is there a maximum for service charges?
There is no legal maximum for service charges. However, the landlord may only charge for the costs actually incurred.
Service costs include the costs for: utilities (gas, water and electricity); moveable property (e.g. microwave oven, washing machine and furniture); garbage; janitor; glass and contents insurance; internet; television; cleaning; garden maintenance.
+ How can I check my service charges?
A landlord must provide statements no later than six months after the end of the year to substantiate the cost structure. So, for example, the service charge statements for the year 2019 must be sent by the landlord to the tenant no later than June 31, 2020.
+ Do I really have to pay the service charges?
Yes. The amount you pay monthly is an advance payment. No later than six months after the end of the year, the landlord must give you the actual settlement. You should receive back any excess amount that you may have paid. This applies to all rental contracts, including those in the free sector.
+ Do I have to pay for all incurred service charges?
That is not always necessary. There is a possibility to request a test of reasonableness from the Rent Tribunal. This is especially interesting with block heating with an outdated heating system.
+ Can a landlord suddenly introduce new service charges?
No, service charges can only be charged for agreed services. The landlord may therefore not unilaterally impose this.
+ Can I still ask for my money back years later?
If you can't come to an agreement with your landlord and mediation from a party like Rent Support Center Groningen doesn't help either, you can ask the Rent Tribunal for a ruling. A landlord must always account for the statements of service costs for a year within six months of the end of that year. For example, the service charge for 2019 must be accounted for by June 31, 2020. The tenant can request a ruling from the Rent Tribunal up to two years after that accountability date.
+ What is the Rent Tribunal?
The Rent Tribunal is an impartial organization which prevents, helps resolve or makes an official and binding decision on disputes between tenants and landlords.
In the first place the Rent Tribunal wants to prevent conflicts by providing good information. If a tenant and landlord can't work it out, they offer help with impartial information and mediation.
If that doesn't help either, the Rent Tribunal evaluates the difference of opinion using the laws and rules that apply to tenants and landlords. They then make a ruling that both parties must abide by.
+ What does the Rent Tribunal do?
The Rent Tribunal helps tenants and landlords of freehold housing, social housing, rooms and caravans. They also help tenants with temporary leases and support tenants' organizations and residents' committees.
The Rent Tribunal deals with differences of opinion about, among other things, the rent, rent increase, rent reduction, service costs, utility costs, energy performance compensation costs and disagreements about maintenance and home improvement.
+ Who usually wins a case at the Rent Tribunal?
In conflicts between tenant and landlord, in 2019 the landlord was proven right in 53% of all cases. A year earlier, that percentage was 38%.
+ How long do proceedings at the Rent Tribunal take?
A procedure usually takes several months.
+ Can a landlord just terminate a lease?
If a tenant is systematically causing a nuisance or is regularly late paying the rent, a landlord may terminate the rent. In addition, a landlord may terminate the lease if the landlord has an urgent need for the property itself, if the tenant does not agree to a reasonable offer for a new lease, or if the property has been temporarily rented.
The realization of a zoning plan of the municipality can also be a ground for termination of rent. If you rent a non-self-contained room from a landlady, the rent can also be terminated more easily in the event of a conflict.
Outside of these grounds, a landlord may not terminate. Therefore, if the landlord terminates on another ground, the termination is invalid. Do you think that the landlord has given notice of termination on invalid grounds? Then contact the Rent Support Center Groningen.
+ How should a tenant leave a property behind?
When you leave a house behind it is important to know whether an intake record was made when you moved in. An intake record is a description of the condition of the property when you move in.
For example, a recording statement includes the properties and any defects in the living space, often with photographs. The landlord will ask the tenant to sign the recording statement. If you have agreed in writing to a recording statement, you must leave the property in the same condition as when you moved in.
If no recording statement was made or there is no written agreement to a recording statement, the rules are slightly different. Then the tenant is expected to leave the property as the tenant also accepted the property at the beginning of the lease.
+ I disagree with my energy label, what can I do?
On the website of Milieu Centraal you can find which energy label is registered by the central government for your house. It may be a provisional energy label or a final energy label.
If you are uncertain about the energy label or the energy index that the landlord has given you, you can check the information on the website of EP-Online.
If the result does not correspond with the information provided by the landlord, then the landlord is wrong and must get the information right. If you can't work it out with the landlord, or if you have doubts about the label registered at the government, you can contact Rent Support Center Groningen for help.
+ Can I have my outdated central heating boiler replaced?
If the central heating boiler in your home is more than 15 years old and has a low efficiency, it may be wise to ask your landlord to provide a modern boiler. You can send the request to replace the boiler to your landlord by letter or mail.
If you make the request to the landlord, you can offer to pay a small rent increase for it in your letter or mail. After all, you benefit from it yourself. It is then more likely that your landlord will respond positively.
+ My house is not yet double glazed, what can I do?
If your house has single glazing, it is wise to have it replaced by double glazing. As a tenant you can make a proposal to the landlord.
This home improvement involves a limited rent increase. It is likely that you will earn back the amount thanks to lower heating costs and you will also have more living pleasure.
We can help you make a calculation, but also make a proposal to the landlord. If you don't get a response or the landlord doesn't want to cooperate, Rent Support Center Groningen can help you to legally challenge this.
+ It stays cold in my apartment, what can I do?
If it doesn't get warm in your living space, it can have several causes. First of all, older homes are often not or poorly insulated. Secondly, it may be that the heating system is outdated.
Rent Support Center Groningen can come and visit you to take a look at the situation. Then an action plan can be drawn up to remedy the problem.
+ Can I install solar panels on my flat roof?
If the roof is in good condition, strong enough and does not require any maintenance for the time being, it is possible to install solar panels yourself. To do this you need to make arrangements with the landlord.
If you have an upstairs neighbor with a flat roof, you can discuss installing solar panels. If you both want it, it is possible to propose it together to the landlord. Then it is important to agree with the landlord under what conditions the solar panels can be installed.