The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has fined three rental agencies for illegally charging lessees agency fees. Rental agencies that act as agents for lessors are not allowed to charge lessees fees for their services. Dutch rental agencies De Huissleutel in the city of Tilburg, Amsterdam Housing in Amsterdam, and Verkoopwijs Makelaars in the city of Deventer have been fined 100,000 euros, 80,000 euros, and 5,000 euros respectively. ACM had previously announced that companies that continued to charge illegal agency fees can expect fines.
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. This becomes even more important in the current tight housing market, in which home seekers are in a dependent position and do not have many options to choose from.
The market participants that were fined by ACM charged fees between 150 euros and over 400 euros, calling these charges contracting fees, rental fees, administrative fees, or registration fees. Lessees were often required to pay such fees before being able to 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. Another practice, in which rental agencies offer additional services that lessees are required to take out, is also prohibited. Lessees must always be able to decide for themselves whether or not to take out such services, without any repercussions.
In these three cases, the amounts of the fines vary. Rental agency Verkoopwijs Makelaars charged lower fees than the two other violators, and, in addition, did so vis-à-vis fewer lessees. That is one of the reasons as to why the fine for Verkoopwijs Makelaars is lower. De Huissleutel charged the highest total in fees, and therefore received the highest fine.
Reports about agency fees are important
Over the next few months, ACM will assess the effects of these fines, and whether any additional actions are needed. In that context, it is important that consumers share their recent experiences with ACM 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.
06-04-2021 Fine imposed on Verkoopwijs Makelaars for illegal agency fees (in Dutch)
06-04-2021 Fine imposed on De Huissleutel for illegal agency fees (in Dutch)
06-04-2021 Fine imposed on Amsterdam Housing for illegal agency fees (in Dutch)
More information about rental agency fees (in Dutch)
03-09-2020 Guidelines regarding costs for additional services in the rental process (in Dutch)
03-09-2020 Rental agencies are only allowed to offer additional services as optional services