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ACM compels rental agencies to stop charging lessees with agency fees

10-09-2019

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has compelled three rental agencies to stop charging lessees with unlawful agency fees. This is not allowed because they worked by order of the lessors. ACM has taken action against the following rental agencies:

  • Domica Eindhoven, located in the city of Eindhoven;
  • Goeth Vastgoed, also located in Eindhoven;
  • Max Property Rentals, located in the city of Rotterdam.

ACM has given these agencies six weeks to stop charging lessees with agency fees. If they fail to do so, they will have to pay a penalty payment of 5,000 euros per week with a maximum of 250,000 euros. The rental agencies have indicated they will comply with ACM’s order, and that they will stop charging agency fees. A fourth rental agency already stopped charging agency fees following the announcement of the order subject to periodic penalty payments.

With this enforcement action, ACM wants to end the practice of charging lessees with agency fees if the rental agency acts as an agent for the lessor and the lessee. If ACM receives any reports that rental agencies continue charging agency fees, ACM will take firm action. ACM can impose fines of up to 900,000 euros per violation. Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “Rental agencies cannot charge lessees with any fees if they also act as an agent for the lessor. It does not matter what they call them: administrative fees, down payments or registration fees. It’s simply prohibited. Lessees are harmed by such practices. And that’s why we take action.”

Illegal agency fees

Rental agencies act as brokers between lessors and lessees. Lessors wish to rent out homes or rooms, and the agencies match these with lessees. The law stipulates that, if the rental agency acts as an agent for the lessor, it cannot charge the lessee any agency fees.

The agencies that ACM has now compelled to stop charging such fees charged amounts from approximately 40 euros to almost 400 euros, calling them down payments, administrative fees, contract fees, registration fees, or inspection fees. In most cases, lessees were required to pay these fees before they could move into their homes. Charging agency fees is prohibited, regardless of the names that agencies give such fees and regardless of the procedures they come up with.

Reports continue to be valuable sources of information

Over the next few months, ACM will assess the effects of this action, and determine whether any additional actions are needed. In that context, it is important that consumers share their recent experiences with ConsuWijzer. On ConsuWijzer’s website, consumers can also find information about their rights concerning rental agencies, as well as a sample letter, which helps them claim back any unlawfully paid fees.

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