Pijpers contested the 200 euro ‘booking fee’ he had to pay to landlord Raiffeisen bank to rent a room in Lucia building. He won the court case and has now received his money back. The judge considered an amount of 7.72 euro to be a reasonable booking fee rather than the requested 200 euros.
Although the bank is appealing, according to legal advice agency Square Rent it is possible that the court will decide in favour of all students. Most students are still considering their options.
One former Lucia building resident, where first-year EUC students are obliged to live, has also filed a lawsuit against Raiffeisen. Other EUC students in the building are considering doing this if negotiations are unsuccessful.
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22-year-old Lars Morsink said that he’d known for years that it was ‘illegal’ for the fees to be so high. “There were rumours that you could get that reimbursed so I decided I should do something. They’d asked for money for services that I never use and that they never offered me, such as requesting rental allowance. But also for services I’m not sure you’re allowed to charge for, such as an ID check.”
It really bothered him. “Of course, I was angry about this. I grew up in Venezuela and everyone is used to corrupt practices there. I thought this wouldn’t be allowed in the Netherlands, which is why I was so incensed.”
Morsink decided to seek advice from legal advice agency Square Rent. “Floris Vaneveld from the agency had previously helped my sister with a rental committee case. Joris and I both instigated separated cases, in consultation with Vaneveld. We then told our year groups that they could do something too, and although people did respond to this, so far no cases have started.”
Morsink is currently awaiting his court ruling. His case took longer than Pijpers’ case because of a delay due to the coronavirus crisis.
For student Liina Knirsch (20), the consequence of the court case is clear. “We should all sue the landlord, since we’re all now entitled to our money back.” Co-resident Clement Danieri (18) agrees. “Maybe it doesn’t apply to everyone, but for me 200 euro is a lot of money. So if we’ve been charged that unjustly, we should get it back.”
19-year-old Annabel Rutten finds the situation ‘bizarre’. “After I heard the news, I looked at the contract and I really wondered why they’d never communicated this. Exactly what these booking fees are for isn’t stated anywhere. It’s an awful lot of money for booking fees.”
Rutten wants to talk with Milestone, the company currently managing the building and whose employees are students’ first point of contact. “I’d like to talk with other students and start negotiations about the situation. Forty of the two hundred students have now responded to a petition, but only those who really want to put their names to this.”