From 1 July 2023, the Good Landlord Act came into force. This law aims to combat undesirable practices by landlords and curbs discrimination and intimidation in the housing market. Municipalities have been given more power to deal with faulty landlords. They can impose administrative fines, introduce a licence requirement and take over the management of a rented property.
Good landlord rules
Under the new law, good landlordship means:
- The landlord must not discriminate against the house seeker;
- The landlord must not intimidate the tenant;
- The landlord may require a maximum of 2 months' bare rent as a deposit;
- Agreements with the tenant must be in writing in a tenancy agreement;
- The landlord must inform the tenant in writing of his rights and obligations, of the agreements regarding the deposit and the rules regarding service costs, of the contact details of the caretaker and of the contact details of the local hotline for undesirable landlord behaviour;
- The landlord may not charge the tenant unreasonable service charges;
- The landlord's intermediary may not charge mediation fees to the tenant;
- Additional rules apply when renting to migrant workers (the lease must be set out separately from the employment contract and information on general rights and obligations must be offered in a language that the migrant worker understands or prefers);
- The landlord must have a rental licence if the municipality requires it.
Most of the points speak for themselves. Points 1 and 9 will be explained in more detail below
Measures to combat discrimination
The landlord must use and publicise a clear and transparent selection procedure. Objective selection criteria must be used and communicated when housing is publicly offered. The selection of the chosen tenant must be justified to the rejected candidate tenants.
Municipalities that use the power to impose a modus operandi obligation on landlords and rental intermediaries are obliged to establish a hotline. If the modus operandi is not complied with or if there is poor landlordship, tenants or house seekers can report this to the municipality in an accessible way (anonymously and free of charge). In response to a report, the municipality can either enforce it itself or help the tenant find a body that can help them further.
Municipalities will be given the power to introduce a rental licence. The municipality will then have to designate certain areas and define categories of residential premises to which the licence requirement applies. This can be done, for example, in neighbourhoods where there is abuse of the socio-economically vulnerable position of tenants living there. By introducing a rental licence, municipalities can impose requirements on landlords regarding maintenance and maximum rent.
The rules contained in the Good Landlord Act will be enforced by the municipality. The municipality can impose an administrative fine of up to €22,500 in the case of a specific offence and up to €90,000 in the case of repeated offences.
An order under penalty or administrative coercion can also be imposed. The landlord can thus be forced to undo the violation.
Municipalities can additionally refuse a licence or revoke property owners' rental licences in neighbourhoods with a rental licence where problems have arisen.
A very drastic measure is to apply a so-called "'management takeover". The municipality can then take over the management of the leased property, where, for example, the rent can be reset and the rent payments collected by the municipality. The municipality can also charge a management fee to the landlord and offset this fee against the rent payments.
Entry into force
The law came into force on 1 July 2023. The rules largely only apply to new leases entered into from 1 July 2023. The obligation to inform tenants in previously concluded leases is subject to a transition period of 1 year after the law comes into force. If the municipality establishes a rental ordinance, the licensing obligation for current rental agreements can take effect. A transition period of 6 months applies for this.
Would you like to know more or do you have questions or need advice about your lease? If so, please feel free to contact one of our lawyers without any obligation. We will be happy to assist you and keep you informed of further developments!