When renting a property, there is a possibility the real estate agent will ask you to pay for mediation or other fees. Only few people know that this is not allowed. On this page we will explain more about the legal regulations regarding mediation fees.
What are mediation fees?
Mediation fees are the fees a real estate agent charges for the mediation between you and the owner/landlord of a property and the services that come with. Mediation can entail:
- Searching for suitable properties on behalf of a potential tenant;
- Searching for prospective buyers for a property on behalf of the owner/landlord;
- Gaining and giving of information on the properties;
- Viewing those properties with the prospective buyer/tenant;
- Negotiating the rent and other contractual terms;
- Drawing up and providing both parties with the tenancy agreement;
- Informing both parties of the meaning of the contractual terms of the tenancy agreement and providing the house keys.
- The name or description of these fees are irrelevant. The fees asked for these services are all mediation fees, even though real estate agents might describe them differently sometimes. Names such as administration fees, contractual fees, marketing fees, rental fees, commission fees, advisory fees, office fees, real estate fees, inspection fees, commission, once-only fees for the landlord, etc. are common.
When does a tenant pay mediation fees?
Some agents work as rental estate agents. On behalf of the tenant they search for a suitable property. When you give a real estate agent the task to find you a suitable property, the agent can charge you mediation fees. However, the agent cannot be working for the landlord as well in this situation. Therefore, mediation fees are only allowed if the agent can find you a property that is not in their own offer.
Mediation fees can be charged for any type of property, including (student)rooms.
If you are in doubt whether the agent is also working for the owner/landlord of the offered property, there are different ways to find out. Is the rental property listed on the website of the agent or is the agent the first point of contact for the rental property? Then they are possibly working for the owner/landlord. Of course, you can also always ask the agent. If they are working for the owner/landlord, they are obliged to inform you.
When does a tenant not pay mediation fees?
There is a legal injunction on mediation fees for two-way mediations. Simply put this means: If a real estate agent is working for the owner/landlord then they cannot charge the tenant, not even if the agent does not receive mediation fees (commission) from the owner/landlord.
Key money is forbidden!
Sometimes key money is asked for. Key money is money that the owner/landlord asks the new tenant before they can enter the property. Even leaving tenants sometimes ask for money in exchange for their key of the house. Charging key money is an ‘unreasonable condition’ in the tenancy agreement and is illegal.
What fees can a real estate agent charge a tenant?
The agent can charge you for potential activities that are separate from the mediation. This could entail adding or fixing certain conveniences to the rental property, ordering paintwork or requesting certain public facilities, such as a parking license.
Are there any differences between room rentals and home rentals?
Until 1 July 2016 agents mediating the renting of rooms could charge mediation fees to the tenant, even when they were mediating for the landlord as well. In article 417, paragraph 4 and article 427 of Book 7 of the civil code, it is recorded that this is no longer allowed as of 1 July 2016, including when the real estate agent does not receive mediation fees (commission) from the owner/landlord. This has aligned the legislation for mediation fees for room rentals and home rentals.
Tips for paying mediation fees
Pay by bank transfer
Always ask for an invoice with a clear description of the charged fees. If you are in doubt whether the fees charged to you are valid, but you want to pay them out of fear of losing the property, always pay by bank transfer. Clearly put in the description of the transfer what the amount is meant for. If the fees do turn out to be invalid, you can reclaim them later through a judge.
Cash payments with invoice or receipt
We advise against cash payments. If you do decide to pay in cash, always ask for an invoice with a clear description. If you receive an invoice, let it be signed by the owner/landlord as proof of payment at the time you hand over the cash money. If the invoice is emailed to you before the key transfer, print it out. Take the paper invoice with you when you make the payment. It is important to write the following on the invoice: Invoice amount received by (name receiver) on (date). Have the invoice signed by the person accepting the money from you. Should you have paid any invalid mediation fees, you can reclaim them through a judge if you can prove the money was wrongfully paid. This can be done with a signed invoice or receipt. If the owner/landlord does not give you an invoice, work with a receipt instead. You can easily make a receipt yourself by writing the amount the owner/landlord received from you and the date on a piece of paper. Make sure the receipt has a clear description of what the amount is for. When handing over the money ask the owner/landlord to sign the receipt and save it. If you do not have an invoice or receipt, you will depend on witnesses. These witnesses cannot be family. Making a receipt with pen and paper eases the possible re-claiming of wrongfully paid mediation fees.
Where can I report a real estate agent committing an offence?
If you wrongfully paid mediation fees, or received an invalid bill, you can reclaim these or refuse it through the template landlord ‘reclaiming/refusing invalid mediation fees’. (Note: this template is in Dutch.)
If you do not receive a response to your email or landlord, you can report the issue to ConsuWijzer, the consumer portal of the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM).
Pararius thinks it is important to inform both the real estate agents who place their properties on Pararius and the tenants who react to properties through Pararius about the rules regarding charging mediation fees.