Tenant support team helps with rental problems
Do you suspect you might be paying too much rent? Have you got questions about your lease? Not sure whether you have to pay for that crack in your window yourself or whether the landlord covers it? For answers to these questions and more, you can obtain free advice from the Huurteam Zuid-Limburg (South Limburg Rental Team).
Many landlords are very reasonable, says Mark van Slobbe from the Huurteam. “But if you have doubts, it doesn’t hurt to send us an email. Preferably before you approach your landlord, because in many cases we’ll be able to answer your question. And if you know what your rights and obligations are, it’s easier to then reach an agreement with the landlord. That way you may be able to avoid a long-term dispute.”
The Huurteam Zuid-Limburg is the continuation of the Housing Helpdesk, which was established in 2015 to support students with rental problems. Most requests still come from students, but the service is now available to all tenants in the region. “In practice, we mainly focus on the social rental sector, because that’s where we can help people the most,” says Stephanie Blom, who recently joined the Huurteam together with two other lawyers.
“As a tenant in this country, you have considerable rights,” says Van Slobbe. “But not everyone is aware of this. For example, if you don’t know that there’s a legal maximum to the rent that can be charged, you also won’t know that you can do something about it if your landlord is charging too much.” Through the Huurteam website, you can check whether the rent you are paying is appropriate. “If we think your rent is too high, we’ll come by to check based on a scoring system. If you’re paying too much, we’ll see if we can reach an agreement with the landlord. If that doesn’t work, we contact the Rental Commission on your behalf. That will cost you €25 euros, but the overpaid rent is sometimes reimbursed—in the best-case scenario, up to hundreds of euros.”
The Huurteam can assist in other cases too. “We offer a contract check free of charge, we can help with disputes about the deposit or overdue maintenance, and we can mediate if you’ve paid too much for gas, water and electricity,” Van Slobbe says.
Due to the shortage of affordable housing, especially in Maastricht, tenants are inclined to respond quickly when they find a suitable place. “Even though the pressure is high, make sure you never just sign anything or transfer money,” Blom advises. “Students from abroad in particular are often unaware of their rights. Or, worse, they get scammed and pay in advance for a room that doesn’t exist at all.”
The Huurteam usually works with walk-in consultation hours, but due to the corona measures you now need to make an appointment through the website. Contact from that point on is mainly by email. “It’s very satisfying to be able to make people happy,” say Blom and Van Slobbe. They emphasise that the Huurteam’s services are low-threshold and accessible to everyone. “If you have doubts, get in touch. Let us advise you and send us your lease before you sign it. Be proactive. You may be able to save yourself a lot of trouble later.”