Know your rights

You are within your rights

Is your landlord not taking you seriously when you ask a reasonable question and you pay a rib each month? Then it’s about time to check your rights and stop being sent from pillar to post.

You have more rights than you may think. You don’t have to accept everything from your landlord. 

These are your rental rights.

Reasonable rent

A square meter of living space in Utrecht now seems to be worth more than a kilo of gold. The law states what the maximum price of a house or room may be, and your landlord must adhere to this. Use the rent checker to find out whether you are paying too much.

What if I pay too much?

If it turns out that you are paying too much, you are entitled to a rent reduction. Did you agree to this overpayment of rent in your lease? Then your rent can still be reduced. Huurteam Utrecht can arrange this for you. Sometimes it is even possible to reduce the rent retroactively from the effective date of your rental agreement. Your landlord will then have to pay you back what you have paid too much.

How do I know what my maximum rent is?

A point system is used to calculate the quality of a rental property. Added together, the points yield a maximum rent. This is determined every year. During a visit, the Huurteam calculates what the maximum rent of a house or room is. Would you like the Huurteam to calculate this for you as well? Contact them!

What can I do about rent that is too high?

If it turns out – like many Utrecht students – that you pay too much, there are two situations in which you can lower your rent.  

If your basic rent is higher than the maximum rent according to the point system, If you suffer from overdue maintenance. The Huurteam can start a procedure for you. Your situation will be brought before the rent commission, which will make a decision. If the rent is too high or the defects are very serious, your landlord will have to lower the rent.

My rent is being increased. Is that allowed?

Your landlord has the right to raise the rent once a year by a certain percentage. This percentage is determined annually. More information can be found on the government website.

Clear overview of service costs

Student life is expensive and service charges can be high. But you don’t want them to get too high. That is why it is good to know that your landlord may only charge the actual service costs and may not make a profit on them. Often you pay an advance and at the end of the year you should receive a statement of the exact costs.

What are the service costs?

These are costs you pay as a tenant that are not included in the basic rent, such as energy, water, internet, administration costs, any furniture, cleaning, and repairs that are your responsibility as a tenant. A landlord, when there are multiple tenants in a house, ensures a fair division.

I have an all-in rent. What about service charges and settlement?

All-in leases are not allowed by law. The landlord is required to split the bare rent and service charges. Unfortunately, it is still common. To make sure the service charges are not too high, the landlord must break down the all-in rent. This is also the only way you can know if your statement is correct.

My landlord wants to increase the service charge. What now?

Your landlord may only increase the service charge in the following 2 situations:

The landlord agrees with you to increase the service charge. 

The final bill of the landlord is higher than previously estimated (advance payment). The landlord must discuss this with you and prove the higher costs with invoices.

I think I am paying or have paid too much service charge. What should I do?

Do you doubt the amount of your service costs? Or are new charges suddenly popping up that are not in your rental agreement? You don’t have to just accept this. You can have your service costs checked for free by the Huurteam. If you are entitled to a refund, this can even apply up to 2.5 years ago.

Good maintenance

Cold showers, old or broken locks, leaks and even fire hazards: students experience it all. As a tenant, you are not responsible for these things. You only have to do minor maintenance that you can easily do yourself, such as refilling the central heating boiler or greasing squeaky hinges..

I think there is overdue maintenance in my house. What can I do?

You have a right to a good quality room or home. Your landlord is required by law to keep your living space in good repair. If not, your rent can be reduced! If there is overdue maintenance in your home and/or room, the landlord must address the maintenance. The Huurteam first notifies the landlord of the defects in writing. He or she must then take action within 6 weeks.

For which defects can I start proceedings at the rent commission?

There are many defects for which you can start proceedings at the rent commission. These include mold, moisture stains, leakage, wood rot and any consequential damage caused by defects. You must first write to the landlord. If nothing has happened after 6 weeks, you can start a procedure with the rent commission through the Huurteam. The rent will usually be reduced temporarily as long as the defects exist. Ultimately, the ruling of the rent commission must ensure that the landlord addresses the overdue maintenance.

My landlord does nothing. What now?

If the landlord has not addressed the overdue maintenance within 6 weeks of the ruling, you can choose to withhold rent. You indicate to the landlord that you are going to do this after the 6-week period is over. You will then reserve the rent and set this amount aside. The landlord will get the total withheld rent back when all the defects are fixed. This is how you apply pressure to force your landlord to take action. So you won’t get a rent reduction, but choose to have the maintenance fixed quickly. Do you want your rent to be reduced because you live less comfortably? Then you have to start a procedure with the rent commission.

Respect for privacy

Your landlord should never just enter your house or room. He or she must first give notice and make an appointment so that someone is home to open up. If your landlord does come in unexpectedly, you are within your rights to do something about it.

What can I do about unannounced visits from my landlord?

Make it clear to your landlord that this is not how it should be and that they can come back by appointment. You can also report housebreaking if the landlord has entered your own room without permission. You may change the cylinders in the door of your own room (always keep the old ones so you can change them again when you leave). You can inform the landlord of the change of cylinder in writing. However, as a tenant you are obliged to cooperate in making an appointment for renovation or inspection.

I feel unsafe with my landlord. What can I do?

The first step is to tell your landlord that you don’t like the behavior. Also, keep a logbook. In it you record the unwanted behavior with date and time. Make sure you keep letters, emails and the record of incoming and outgoing phone calls with your landlord. This way you will build a file that you can use to stand up for yourself.

Can I get help in dealing with my landlord?

If you would like to consult with someone about your personal situation, you can email or call Huurteam. They will think with you and help you. In extreme cases, the Huurteam can take over communication from you by mutual agreement.  

Lease agreement

When you have a lease, both parties have rights and obligations. For example, as a tenant, you cannot just be evicted from your home. So your landlord cannot suddenly terminate the contract. Unfortunately, we see that not all landlords follow the law. Sometimes consciously, but sometimes also because they are not well informed.

When is my landlord allowed to terminate?

If you have a contract from before July 1, 2016, then it cannot be temporary. Therefore, the landlord cannot simply terminate your contract. However, as of July 1, 2016, a landlord may offer a temporary contract. Do you have a contract with an end date? Then your landlord may terminate it a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 months before the end of this contract. It is also good to know that if you are renting for a minimum period, neither party is allowed to terminate within this period. In addition, a contract can never have a minimum and a maximum period at the same time. Can’t figure it out by yourself? Have your contract checked for free by the Rent Team.

My contract is about to expire. What now?

If the landlord does not terminate the contract and you continue to pay your rent, your contract will automatically change into a permanent contract. A new temporary contract is not allowed. If you have already had one temporary lease and the landlord wants to sign a new contract, it will automatically be for an indefinite period.

I have received a termination letter. What can I do?

Always have your lease termination letter checked by the Huurteam. Often it is unjustified. Therefore, never just accept a rent termination. The Huurteam can also check your existing rental contract free of charge and inform you about rent protection.