Are you dealing with mold, leakage or any other kind of lack of maintenance in your house? Your landlord is obliged to repair these defects. If a landlord does not carry out the necessary reparations, you have less living comfort than you are supposed to have. In this blog we explain which options you as a tenant have to force the landlord to fix the defects present in your house.
What is a defect?
According to the law, every situation that limits your living comfort is to be considered a defect. A defect can only be a situation for which you as a tenant can not be accountable for yourself. Obviously the landlord doesn’t have to fix a defect that you caused yourself. The Rental Committee has a a booklet (in Dutch) with hundreds of situations that are considered to be a defect.
Below you will find the ten most common defects;
– Fungus / mold / mildew
– A door lock is missing / the door cannot be locked
– A door or window cannot be closed or opened
– No doorbell
– Draft nuisance
– Wood rot
– Odor nuisance
– Insufficient ventilation possiblities
– A banister is missing
– The floor is crooked
– The barn has collapsed
– A sink is leaking
– A tread is missing or broken
– Cracks in the ceiling or walls
There are also maintenance issues that are for the account of the tenant. These issues are called minor repairs. A maintenance issue is considered a minor repair if the repair does not entail any significant costs and if this complaint can easily be fixed. For example, the fixing of a tap, the venting of the central heating system or the replacement of a lamp. The government has compiled a list of complaints which must in any event be regarded as minor repairs.
“There are also maintenance issues that are for the account of the tenant.”
How can you force your landlord to repair the maintenance defects?
In the event of a defect, it is very important that you notify your landlord about this as soon as possible. You can inform your landlord about the problem by phone, but you are wise to (also) report your complaint in writing. This way you have proof that you have reported the complaint to your landlord that specific day. Give the landlord a reasonable period to fix the defect. What is considered a reasonable period depends on the severity of your complaint. In the case of non-serious defects, a term of six weeks is reasonable.
Did you report the complaint to your landlord and does he fail to take action? Then it’s time to contact Frently! You have a number of options to ensure that your landlord tackles the defects:
1. Reduce your rent temporarily via the Rental Committee
The most obvious and most recommended option is to start a procedure at the Rental Committee to (temporarily) reduce your rental price because of the presence of defects. If there are defects in the house, you will enjoy less living comfort. Because you have less living comfort, you have the right to pay less rent. The Rental Committee can decide whether there is a serious lack of maintenance and if so, the Rental Committee can decide upon a temporary rent reduction. Due to the reduction of the rent, you exert pressure on the landlord to carry out the reparations. As soon as the defects are fixed, your rental price will go back to it’s original price.
Never decide upon a rent reduction yourself. Only start paying less rent after a successful rent reduction procedure.
2. Fix the problem yourself and settle the costs with the payment of the rent
The second possibility is to hire someone to fix the problem based on article 7:206 of the Dutch Civil Code, and settle the costs with the payment of the rent. It is very important that you ask your landlord to fix the defect first and that you give him a specific term to fix the problems. For example:
The ventilation of my bathroom is not working. I kindly ask you to fix this issue within 14 days after the date of my letter. If you fail to repair this issue, I will hire someone to fix this problem myself and I will settle the costs of the reparations with the payment of the rent.
I hope to hear from you soon.
If you choose for this option, we advise you to send this text to your landlord by registered letter. Why by registered letter? So that you have a proof of sending it, just in case your landlord denies you ever informed him about these problems. If the landlord does not fix the defects, even after you’ve given him a reasonable amount of time to resopnd, you should contact three different handymen. Ask them to tell you their price (by email) upfront and hire the cheapest one. As soon as you receive the bill of the reparation costs, settle the costs with the payment of the rent and send the landlord a copy of the bill.
3. Urgent matter? Start a ‘speed lawsuit’
Are you dealing with an urgent maintenance defect such as a central heating system that doesn’t work anymore? And does option 2 not belong to the possibilities because of the high reparation costs? Then choose for a ‘speed law suit’. The law has special emergency procedures for emergency cases like this. In Dutch this procedure is called ‘kort geding’. You are advised to hire a lawyer to start this procedure. In most cases the costs of this lawyer are largely paid by the Dutch government. The own contribution of a lawyer is at least € 196,=, no matter if you win or loose the procedure. You also have to pay the court administration fees (€ 79,= for students with a low income) upfront, which you will get back in the case you win the procedure in court. The court can force the landlord to fix the defects on a very short term. Does the landlord still fail to fix the problem, even after the court verdict? Then the landlord has to pay a huge fine as a compensation for the lack of living comfort.
4. Postpone paying the rent
It is possible to postpone the payment of your rent if your landlord is not sticking to the contract, which is the case if he fails to repair maintenance defects. With postponing we mean temporarily not paying. By doing this you put pressure on the landlord to fix the problems. Although the law does give you this option, we from Frently do not advise you to choose for option 4.
First of all, it is possible that the landlord does not have enough money to pay for the reparations because you haven’t paid the rent to him. Also, the landlord can invoke the fact that you have rent arrears and in some situations rent arrears (three months or more) provide a legal ground for termination of your rental contract. If a judge is of the opinion that the lack of maintenance was not so serious that you were allowed to withhold the rent, then you have a problem. In addition, after the defects have been fixed, the missing rent should still be paid.
Do you have defects in your house? Contact Frently to reduce your rent and make sure your landlord fixes the problems in your house.