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ACM reminds rental agencies and students of new rules on agency fees

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has reminded a large number of rental agencies of the new rules that came into force on July 1, 2016, regarding agency fees when agencies represent both the lessees and the lessors. Since July 1, the rules protecting lessees (future ones) against unjust agency fees charged by rental agencies also apply to shared housing units such as rooms and floors. Through its consumer information portal ConsuWijzer, ACM informs students and young people about their rights if they rent a room through an agency.

The rules that already protected lessees of independent dwelling units against unjust agency fees now also apply to lessees of rooms and floors. That is good news for students and young people.

Who pays the agency fees?

If an agency acts as an agent for both the lessor and the lessee, it is only allowed to charge the lessor any agency fees (provided that the lessee is a consumer).  This means that if a rental agency represents both the lessee and the lessor, it cannot charge consumers any costs at all, regardless of what name the agency gives to these costs. The rental agency is only allowed to charge the lessee any costs for activities that the lessee has explicitly ordered, and that are not related to the agency process. This concerns extra activities such as applying for a parking permit or having odd jobs carried out.

As we are approaching a period where students will be looking for housing, ACM wishes to inform students and young people about these new rules through ConsuWijzer. On ConsuWijzer’s website, they can also find information about their rights if they are faced with agency fees or if they wish to claim unjust fees.

New situation in practice

ACM previously acted against rental agencies that charged both lessees and lessors agency fees. As these rules, since July 1, also apply to agency processes for shared housing units, rental agencies need to adjust their practices to this new situation. ACM has reminded rental agencies of this new situation. ACM enforces compliance with these rules, and has the power to impose fines of up to EUR 900,000 per violation. Consumers can submit their indications with ConsuWijzer.