During the search and finding of a room in Groningen it can occur that you as a tenant have to pay so called mediation costs (sometimes called contract costs or service costs). In many cases these costs are unjustified and reclaimable. Based on article 7:417 from the Dutch civil law, 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, according to Dutch law, 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 300,00 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 7:417.
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 is the only way to get it back. 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.