This is a follow-up to this question.

I went to see a house and I said I wanted to rent it. The real estate agency sent me an email asking if I would accept the rental proposal (just the rent values and contract costs). I said yes, that I agreed with the price conditions, so they could draft a contract to propose me.

Today (less than week after), they sent me the contract and also the details to make the money transfer, but I decided not to rent the house after all.

I didn't sign or accept the contract but now they sent me an email saying that the Dutch law says that I have to stay with this house, because we had a verbal agreement.

I know that I'm not being entirely correct with them, but I believe that I am not obligated to accept and sign the contract, so I think that they are trying to force me illegally. Is this bluff from them or is it really a thing?

  • 1
    You need to consult either a Dutch lawyer, or at least someone who is very familiar with Dutch rental agreements. Which contracts have to be in writing in order to be binding is a matter of law and custom, and varies from country to country. Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 13:27
  • What happened with this in the end? I am curious.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 11:14
  • 3
    @fedorqui At the end I received an angry call from the real estate agency guy. I always stood with the idea that I didn't signed anything and therefore I'm not obliged to accept the contract (he strongly argued against this saying that the verbal contract was valid). Then he just started saying that I could go away by just paying them the contract fee. I told them that I knew that fee was illegal because they were representing the owner. He argued a bit, screamed some more, but eventually gave up. I didn't signed or pay anything.
    – cinico
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 11:35
  • Wow, very well done. Real estate agency people have this tendency to try to get profit from you when they notice you may not know the laws very well.
    – fedorqui
    Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 11:38
  • Which real-estate agency was this?
    – edar_nl
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 20:57

3 Answers 3


I am also not a lawyer, not Dutch, and have no Dutch legal experience. Still, I am absolutely sure they have no legal basis to demand payment. Rental agreements which involve contracts are concluded only when all of the following happen:

  • The contract is signed by both parties
  • The apartment is cleared for use by the tenant
  • The keys are given to the tenant

The first criterion is enough to let you walk away. Neither the owner nor the rental agency can have a valid expectation of a potential tenant not deciding to reneg during contract negotiations; this happens often. They did not even do something to indicate that they were reserving the apartment for you based on your acceptance, and they did not tell you explicitly that the agreement via email is binding, that it will require you to pay regardless of the contract etc. The reason they didn't do that is that if you have this kind of binding agreement, then it's binding both ways - and you would be able to enter the apartment without agreeing to the terms of the contract.

The second criterion is not relevant to our case.

The third condition is quite significant, as much as the first I would say. You got nothing you could make use of by agreeing in principle. Specifically, you did not have access to the apartment. Another reason why they have no case IMO.

Practical advice:

  1. Tell them you are surprised by their claim regarding Dutch law, and to your understanding this is not the case.
  2. Politely request that they quote the relevant parts of Dutch law, along with English translation, to justify their claim.
  3. If they don't do so, then "the ball is in their court", and you haven't even refused to pay. If they do send you something, post it here, and perhaps you would need to see a lawyer (though I doubt it).

Also, I suspect that if you pay them at some point expecting them to return the money if you end up being right - you would never see that money in your life :-(


I'm not a lawyer. I'm writing here to give you first support and I hope someone with proper knowledge will help you. Please do not take this answer as final.

First, during my living in the Netherlands, I found that Dutch are operating a lot with common sense. The law is trying to protect the weakest party, which in this situation you are.

I don't know you personally, so I treat you from what I read. I also treat agency based the on text from the previous topic. As for me, they don't play well.

Yes, you had a verbal agreement but I think for such types of contracts Dutch law prefers the written and signed contract. I don't have details of your verbal communication, but it sounds reasonable that you decided to stop with it as you got all details of the contract. I also found a link which gives me hope that I'm right.

If you're not sure then pay 200 euro for a layer and get the proper answer. Ironic that I do remember that you wanted to save them.

In the worst case, you can sign and live in the apartment no longer than notice period in the contract.

I would also advise you to get legal insurance. However, it will not help in this case.


Verbal contracts have some binding in most countries; but they cannot ever force you to sign a contract.
Worst case you are liable to pay for the effort they undertook in good faith to prepare everything for the contract after you verbally agreed.
Realistically, if they really sue you, they could maybe charge you two hours of work for running around and writing up the contract (assuming you didn't make them repaint the house in your favorite color or something like that).

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