Can I reclaim excessively paid service costs from my landlord?

Can I reclaim excessively paid service costs from my landlord?

A rental price always consists of two parts, namely the basic rent and the price including an (advance) service cost. You pay the basic rent for the use of your living space. The service costs are paid to reimburse the landlord for any services they provide. These are usually the gas, water, and electricity supplies, but can also be the internet provision, television, and/or upholstery and furniture.

The advance service costs payment

The service costs are paid in advance, which means that the landlord has to look at the end of the year whether you have paid the correct amount in advance, compared to your actual usage. You should compare your advance payment to the actual costs incurred by your landlord- any difference must be refunded (or sometimes paid). It does not matter what name your landlord has given to the service costs in your rental agreement, payment is required.

Upholstery and furniture

If you landlord (say) also rents laminate, then they may ask for a certain amount each month. This is related to the amortization of so-called moveable property. A laminate floor is seen as durable, because you use it for a longer period of time without the floor being damaged in such a way that it needs to be replaced.

If the installation of the floor costs €1,000 then your landlord might request a fee over ten years. €1,000 divided by ten, and then by twelve is €8.33 which is the monthly charge a landlord can make. For all furniture, etc, that is rented, the calculation must be made in the same way.

Final bill for service costs

If the landlord has calculated what amount they have paid to suppliers and providors in the calendar year, and combined it with any upholstery/furnishings, then the bill is final. The landlord is obliged to settle with you every year, and to pay back the difference between the amount paid and actual consumption. Naturally, this also works the other way around, and you must then transfer the shortfall to your landlord.

Average costs

Are you renting a room? Then the average consumption costs are around €60 per month for the supply of gas, water, and electricity. The cost for internet and televisions are usually around €10 per month, and if the landlord has supplied flooring and/or curtains then you can add another €10 or so per month.

For a small apartment (or a studio), the average consumption costs for gas, water, and electricity are around €75 per month. The costs for internet and television depend on the number of other residents with which you share the connection, but are likely to be around €10 per month, and the same for upholstery and furniture.

For a larger apartment, the average consumption costs for gas, water, and electricity are around €85 per month. The costs for internet and television depend on the number of other residents with which you share the connection, but are likely to be around €25 per month, and around €15 per month for upholstery and furniture.

Checkout before July 1st

A final bill for service costs must always be provided to you as a tenant before 1 July of the following year. For the calendar year 2017, the final invoice must therefore have been sent to you before 1 July 2018. For the 2018 calendar year, the deadline for issuing the settlement is 1 July 2019 and for the calendar year 2019 you must have seen a settlement by 30 June 2020 at the latest.

The above deadlines are no different if you have left the living space halfway through the year. The duty to settle will remain, no later than 30 June of the year after you have moved.

You can recover overpaid service costs up to 2.5 years after the calendar year is over. Unfortunately for the year 2015 and the years before that, you can no longer claim any service costs, but for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019, you can!

An exception is when the basic rent is above €710.68 in that case it is possible to recover service costs up to five years after any given calendar year.

I haven’t received any payment

You can use Frently to start a procedure with the Rental Committee. You can also do this if you no longer live in the room, or if you are now staying abroad. We then ask the Rental Committee to determine how many service costs you had to pay to you landlord in a given year. The Rental Committee then makes a binding statement about your payment obligations. After the decision we will reclaim the service costs you paid extra for you.

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What does a procedure at the Rental Committee look like?

A procedure at the Rental Committee generally takes between six and eight months, depending on the complexity of the procedure and the number of applications that they have already received that year.

The procedure begins with the submission of a petition- for this we need some information about the area of your living space, the number of co-occupants who also use the facilities, the end date of the lease, etc. Once the application, or petition, has been submitted, then the Rental Committee tells us that the procedure has officially started. Your landlord will also be notified at this point.

A researcher from the Committee will ask the landlord to send invoices of the advances that have been charged- if they don’t comply then the standard consumption for gas, electricity, and water are used and other services are set at a €0 rate. Usually, the landlord does provide invoices, and then a research report can be made. This report and other notes are then checked and discussed by Frently at the Rental Committee. As the tenant, you are not obliged to go to such a session, so it’s not a problem if you have moved in the mean time.

After the hearing has taken place, the Committee comes to a decision. Frently will receive this statement about six weeks after the discussion/hearing at the Rental Committee. Unfortunately, we are given no indication of the eventual result at the discussion/hearing, but as soon as we received the statement, we will send it to you by email.

Finally, we make sure that your (former) landlord repays the overpaid service costs. Only after the repayment has occurred is the procedure completed.

Costs of a procedure

Frently works on a ‘no cure, no pay’ basis. This means that we only charge a fee if we have actually received an amount of the service costs for you. The charge levied by Frently is 40% of the amount recovered, which includes VAT and procedural costs. Since we first reclaim the money from your landlord before you ‘owe’ us anything, it is actually the landlord who pays for our services.

Example

Lisa has rented a room since January 1st, 2016, and pays €120 per month in advance service costs. She lives with three housemates, and her landlord supplies gas, water, electricity, and internet.

Based on the invoices from the energy company in 2016, Lisa and her housemates consumed €1,000 in gas an electricity, and €160 on water (this is inline with the average consumption per room). The internet subscription costs €40 per month, which means that the total costs for 2016 were €480.

The settlement is as follows:

Gas/electricity = €1,000- divided by 4 people, so = €250
Water= €160 (divided by 4 people), so= €40
Internet= €480 (divided by 4), so = €120
So, total costs payable in 2016 are €410

Lisa’s advance payments have totaled €1,440 in the year, but she was only due to pay €410, so the total she is due back is €1,030.

Do you want to reclaim excessively paid service costs?

Have you not received your settlement? Or are you concerned whether it is correct? Let us help you! Make a free and no-obligation appointment via our online appointment planner.

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