We all know there is a shortage of rental housing, leading to tenants often facing excessively high rents and unreasonable behavior from landlords. In order to address this, the ‘Good Landlordship Act‘ was introduced on July 1, 2023. This law sets new rules to better protect tenants. We’ll take a look at the main points of this law and question whether it really helps to stop unfair rental practices.
Transparency and fairness in tenant selection
A crucial part of this new law is that landlords and agents must be fair in selecting their tenants. This means they need to choose who can rent a property in a fair way. This is intended to prevent discrimination and ensure everyone gets a chance to rent a property.
While this seems like a good idea, we don’t think it will change much. The main thing for a landlord is that the rent is paid on time each month. Our experience shows that the identity of the tenant usually doesn’t matter as long as the rent is paid on time.
No intimidation by the landlord
The ‘Good Landlordship Act’ prohibits landlords from intimidating their tenants. If a tenant feels intimidated, they can take both criminal and administrative action.
This seems like a good way to combat abuse by landlords, but it is often difficult to determine what exactly constitutes intimidation. So although the intention is good, we don’t think it will greatly improve the situation for tenants.
Maximum of two times the net rent as a deposit
The new law also stipulates that the deposit cannot be higher than twice the net rent. Moreover, the deposit must be refunded within 14 days after the end of the rental contract, unless there is damage to the property or rent is still to be paid.
This part of the law is clear and can really make a difference for tenants. However, a tenant still has to go to court if there is a dispute about any damage to the property or unpaid rent.
Lease agreements must be in writing
Another part of the law is that rental contracts now have to be put in writing. This does not mean that a verbal agreement is not valid, but a written contract can help clarify the rights of tenants.
At Bumarang, we almost never see a lease contract that is not put in writing. In fact, not having a written agreement can sometimes actually be to the advantage of the tenant. So we don’t think this part of the law will greatly improve the tenant’s position.
Tenants must receive all necessary information
Landlords are now legally obliged to inform their tenants about their rights and obligations, details about the deposit and when it needs to be refunded, where they can report complaints, and information about service costs. As a tenant, you now have the right to all this information, which can help prevent unpleasant surprises.
Although this is an important part of the law, many tenants are often not able to judge whether the terms in the contract are in accordance with the law.
Finally, the ‘Good Landlordship Act’ makes it easier to deal with landlords who do not comply with the rules. Mayors and councilors can now take stricter action against landlords who do not abide by the basic rules. In the worst case, landlords can be fined up to € 90,000 or the municipality can take over the management of the property.
While it’s good that action can be taken more strictly, we do not believe this will stop undesirable rental behavior. The rules in the law are too vague to be properly enforced.
In short, we think the ‘Good Landlordship Act’ is a well-intentioned attempt to strengthen the position of tenants. It addresses a number of issues in the current rental market. But we do not expect the tenant to actually have a stronger position as a result of this law.
Raise awareness of existing protection
We see the Good Landlordship Act as a small step in the right direction, but much more is possible. Many tenants are not aware of the opportunities they already have to improve their situation. We believe that raising awareness of these opportunities would be more beneficial. In addition, we think that the Rent Commission should have more authority.
So, what would we like to see?
- Teach tenants how to calculate what the maximum rent for their home should be and actively encourage them to have the Rent Commission assess whether they are overpaying.
- Let tenants know that the Rent Commission can help determine how much service charge they should pay.
- Give the Rent Commission the ability to decide on the return of the deposit. This prevents tenants from having to go to court for this.
- Make it easier and cheaper for tenants to go to the district court for a judgment. At the moment, this is unaffordable for many tenants.
- Let the Rent Commission also decide on matters related to the end of the lease. Now only the district court can decide on this.
Do you want to know how you can improve your position as a tenant? Then get in touch with us! We are ready to help you.