Harm's story

When I went to university, I moved into a student room in Utrecht. Thanks to also being a member of a student union, I was well aware of landlords who asked too much rent. After having made a few enquiries here and there, I checked my own rent. When it turned out I was paying too much rent, I took action immediately. Someone from the Rent Team visited me to take the exact measurements of my room and to check all the particulars. That took no time at all. He worked out everything right away.

During this process, things went a bit wrong in the initial communication. I rented my room via a letting agency, so all communication went through them, and wasn't directly with the actual owner of the building. Because the case was being dealt with by the Rent Team, it was they who sent a message that proceedings would be started to the letting agency, rather than me. After a lot of emails back and forth, we were unable to resolve matters, so I took it up with the Rent Tribunal. Someone from the tribunal paid a visit as well. He gave a full explanation of what he did and said that such cases were quite a common problem. Proceedings were then scheduled, but my landlord and the letting agency failed to show up three times running. That meant the case kept getting postponed.

The third time, though, the Rent Tribunal did study the facts and came to the conclusion that the landlord was at fault, so they decided to issue a decision the following week. When they did so, the Rent Tribunal ruled in my favour. That meant I ended up having €1000 reimbursed by my landlord, say 14 pairs of jeans worth of rent.

A few weeks after the case was closed, I did speak to my landlord briefly. It turned out when we spoke that he was much more reasonable about lowering the rent than the letting agency. In hindsight, I would have preferred speaking with the landlord directly. I'm pretty sure we would have understood each other more easily that way.

My advice to others in a similar situation? Deal with it and discuss it with your landlord in the first instance. See what's possible and what's realistic. You have the right to object to your rent if it seems too high and usually the Rent Tribunal will decide in your favour. Whatever you do, don't let yourself be intimidated.

Age: 23
Place of residence: Utrecht
Utrecht University