Rent increase refusal wins lawsuit

Wij weigeren de huurverhoging profiel foto

Message taken from the Housing Association

At the beginning of this month, a judge ruled in favor of a tenant who refused the rent increase in 2020 by simply not paying it. His landlord harassed him with a collection agency and eventually a summons for 'payment arrears', but was unsuccessful. 

Mike Werkhoven has been living in a social rental home in Bilthoven for 33 years. He saw his rent rise by 32% since his complex was bought in 2013 by Daelmans Vastgoed, one of the larger private investors in the Netherlands.

Disposable income falls, costs go up

When the rent in 2020 was € 950 per month and he received a rent increase of € 25, he thought it was enough. 'I am retired and the pensions are not indexed. My disposable income goes down and costs go up. And then it just stops somewhere. That moment hasn't arrived for me yet, but I can feel it coming and I don't feel like it. You can let it get to you, but you can also resist', Mike Werkhoven explains the background of his action. He blames the politics of recent years, which made rent increases above inflation possible. 

Don't pay rent increase, old rent does

He refused the rent increase, simply not paying him. So not by making his objection known to the landlord, but by not paying the amount of the rent increase as of 1 July, while the old rent is.

Social tenants have the right via Article 253 paragraph 2 of Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code to object to a rent increase by simply not paying it. You do not need to submit an objection. By only paying your old rent, you indicate that you do not agree with the rent increase.

The ball is in the landlord's court

The landlord will then have to take action itself. In this case, you do not build up payment arrears by not paying the rent increase. The landlord is therefore not allowed to send reminders or engage a collection agency, although this sometimes happens. Likewise with Mike. His landlord sent a number of automatic payment reminders after 1 July and sent a collection agency after about eight months.

Collection agency and bailiff

Shortly afterwards, the collection agency engaged a bailiff and sued Mike for late payment. But the judge ruled that Mike was within his rights because he had used the opportunity to object to the rent increase in this way.

Landlord did not think a repeat letter was necessary

The landlord had failed to send a so-called 'reminder letter' or registered 'repeat letter' about the rent increase to Mike when he apparently failed to pay the rent increase. The landlord stated that he did not consider a repeat letter necessary, because an email from Mike to the landlord would show that Mike had indeed received the rent increase proposal.

Judge rejects landlord's claim

The judge did not agree. The procedure in this situation is described in detail in the Civil Code. Because Mike refused the rent increase by not paying him, the ball was in the landlord's court. Now that he had taken no action except sending reminders, his claim was dismissed.

Tough year behind us

Mike's rent therefore remains at € 950 for the time being. "I don't know if I'll do it again next year," Mike says. “This whole procedure has not left me in the dark. I am not at all used to dealing with these kinds of organizations and these kinds of threats. I am happy with the result. Although my landlord hasn't responded at all yet.'

We refuse the rent increase

Mike Werkhoven joined the action group during his action Wij Weigeren de Huurverhoging who is fighting for a multi-year rent freeze (2021-2025) to make and keep housing affordable for everyone again. Willy Lourenssen, among others, is involved in We refuse the rent increase, who in the past guided hundreds of tenants in a similar action to Mike's.