Verena is suing her landlord
I hesitate for a second, then I sign the contract. This is the point of no return. I am excited but also a little nervous. I have so many questions. What will happen next? What will my landlord say? Will I be kicked out because I have exercised my rights?
I’ve just signed a contract with Bekijk het! to try to reduce my basic rent, to claim back my service costs and to force my landlord to repair my leaking bathroom ceiling. Let’s be clear, though, I live in a wonderful little apartment and I absolutely love the place, but since I moved in in 2010, I’ve always had the feeling that my boyfriend and I have been paying too much rent.
But what could I do? I’m not at all familiar with Dutch law, and compared to other rooms I’ve always felt quite lucky. Three years later, though, I interviewed Denise, the owner of Bekijk het!, for a story about housing fraud. Finally there was somebody I could turn to and with whom I could discuss my concerns about my rent and service costs.
I made an appointment with Denise. She came to measure the apartment, look at possible faults, my contract and the facilities. Then she calculated what the basic rent should be, based on a points system.
The figure she wrote down blew me away. According to her calculations, we pay €250 too much and that doesn’t even include the service costs, where we don’t know yet whether we are paying too much or not. I just don’t want to think about how much money we’ve paid over the past three years and which I could have used to travel instead.
I signed the contract at this appointment, but not without mixed feelings. It’s weird, but although I’ve done nothing wrong and am just exercising my rights, I feel guilty – guilty that I’ve started a procedure against my landlord, who has never been unfriendly to me. At the same time I’m happy that I can finally do something, but I’m nervous that all the horror stories I’ve heard of will soon apply to me.
I’ve heard stories of Polish guys coming to your apartment and paying you unwanted visits. I’ve heard stories about landlords who empty your apartment while you’re away for the weekend. I’ve also heard stories that I could get kicked out for no reason.
However, now that I know that I’m paying too much I cannot just close my eyes and forget about it. It would always be in the back of my mind. I guess I will know in a couple of weeks how things will turn out.