After finding a room or apartment, it can occur that you have to pay so called ‘mediation costs’ (sometimes called differently: for example contract costs). In many cases these costs are unduly paid, and therefore reclaimable. Dutch law gives us two main grounds for reclaiming mediation costs: article 7:264 and article 7:417 sub 4 Burgerlijk Wetboek (Dutch Civil Code).
Based on article 7:264, mediation costs have to be in proportion to the provided services. These services may only account to printing a standard form contract in practice, for which an amount equivalent to a month’s worth of rent is often charged. However, a mediator may only charge tenants costs for provided services. This also goes for students. If the costs charged are much higher than the services provided, they are seen as an unjust advantage for the mediation office. This is called a disproportion between the costs and the services actually provided. In that case the contract is void.
To give you an example: you have found a room via a friend of yours, you contacted the house owner and showed your interest. A mediation office steps in and offers you the rental contract, but first, in order to get the room you are asked to pay the mediation, service or contract costs of 300,00 Euros. In this situation the mediation office did not actually mediate between you and the house owner, and 3the 00,00 Euros is considered to be disproportional compared to the provided service of making a rental contract. Based on the Dutch law and statements from subdistrict courts the contract is therefore in breach with article 7:264.
It can also occur that the mediation agency is working for both the landlord and the tenant. In that case, the mediation agencies can’t let the tenants pay for their work, based on art. 417 sub 4 BW. Even if the landlord doesn’t pay the mediator for his services, the tenant usually doesn’t have to pay these costs.
If mediation costs are unjustly charged, the tenant can reclaim them as unduly paid. It is advisable to try and reach an agreement with the mediation office first before taking any legal charges, due to the importance of a good understanding between both parties. Our organization can advise you how to get in contact with your house owner or mediation office and provide you with information and advice about your situation. We can also act as your representitive and reclaim the unduly paid costs. If the mediator is unwilling to repay the mediation costs, legal action may be the only way. If there is indeed a disproportion between the costs and services provided, the tenant has a very strong position in such a procedure. Our tenancy lawyer can take the case if necessary for a reduced compensation.
You can reclaim your mediation costs up till 5 years after payment, because the claim expires after 5 years. However, if you for example have had contact with the mediation office, this may not be the case. If you have questions about that, feel free to contact us.