Dorm deposit disagreement cases
Problems with your dorm deposit? Find out more how LOKO can help you.
At the end of your lease, you are entitled to a refund of the dorm rental deposit. The landlord can only retain the dorm rental deposit in exceptional cases such as for damages he can prove you caused, in case part of rent is still due...
Although tenancy laws are quit clear, every year, students are confronted with problems concerning the refund of dorm rental deposit. Unfortunately, many students do not know their rights and obligations, which causes them to be infringed on their rights. For many, attorney fees are too much of a threshold to go to court and ask for refund of an amount that is often small.
What to do in case of problems
In case of conflict with the landlord about the refund, it is advisable to immediately go to the KU Leuven housing service. That service will start a mediation attempt and if necessary, will help you draw up a registered letter to the landlord in which you make clear your position. From the moment the letter is send, the interest on the rental deposit starts to accrue. In most cases, a solution will be found through the housing service mediation.
If that is not the case, the housing service will forward your dossier to LOKO. LOKO will then evaluate your case and if we think the probability to win is high enough, bring the case before the justice of the peace of Leuven. You don't have to pay anything yourselves, except if the case is lost. You will not have to go to court yourself. From then on, the attorney of LOKO will manage the dossier and represent your interests.
Hints and tips
- Paying the deposit with cash is no longer allowed! So make sure you pay by bank transfer, this way you also have proof of payment.
- Always pay all rent due. Some students do not pay the last (two) month(s) of rent to compensate the rental deposit or the discomfort of a rickety room. We definitely advise against that, because it might cause you even more problems: if the case is brought before the justice of the peace, the judge will partially put you in the wrong which means you will have to bear part of the legal costs.
- Return the keys of the room in time. Keeping the keys hostage as a mean of threat, will backfire. You will owe extra rent and the judge will partially put you in the wrong, which, again, means you will have to bear part of the legal costs.
- Not every dorm works with an inventory. But if your dorm does this, make sure you get a detailed inventory. On such a detailed inventory you can also indicate if things are broken on, for example, a table or cupboard so that your landlord cannot say that this was your fault at the end of the year.
- In case you do not agree with the inventory, it is not compulsory to sign it. Please bear in mind that once the inventory is signed, it is very difficult to contest it.
- In case of temporary gross negligence of the landlord such as a defective heating system, a faulty shower or electricity problems, immediately notify the landlord through a registered letter. Best case scenario, you will be able to prove loss of use and get a refund of part of your rent.
- Bear in mind that both the landlord and you can use all legal means as proof, which means that for example, a testimony of someone who knows the room, can be decisive for the justice of the peace.
In case you want the mediation of KU Leuven (or, if necessary, the lawsuit through LOKO) to have a high chance of succeeding, it is advisable to keep the following documents:
- Your lease signed by both you and the landlord, and the regulations (if appropriate);
- The sending notice of the registered letter. You will receive this notice at the counter of the post office that sends the letter. Attach the notice to a copy of the sent letter;
- The correspondence between the landlord and you;
- The written receipt the landlord gives you;
- All receipts of payments and return of keys;
- All documents that can proof you are entitled to a refund of the rental deposit, such as a handwritten testimony of a roommate or a person who knows your room.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I obligated to let LOKO handle my case?
No, of course not. We understand if you think it takes to long before everything is handled by LOKO. You can always consult your own attorney. In that case, do not forget to discuss the possible legal costs, so you are not caught off guard.
- What if I want to pass the case onto my own attorney, if it is already with LOKO?
Just send an email to email@example.com and we will send you the full dossier on the current situation.
- I would like to know what stage my case is in. Who should I contact?
Given that we are the proxy between the dupe and the attorney, it is best to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Since we only sit down with the attorney once a month, it might take a while before we are able to answer your question.
- I think it all takes a long time. Why is that?
Since our attorney manages these cases all free of charge, we have the advantage that there are no increasing legal costs. The downside of that is that it will take longer because our attorney has to manage the cases in between his other work. To make it all possible, we cluster the cases. This causes that it might take a few months before the case is really started up.
After the start up, things do not go as fast as we would like, because the justice system is excruciatingly slow.
- Who is this attorney you are talking about?
Johan Bruyninckx is an attorney and is specialised in canon law. He has always fully supported the student life. He was a volunteer at LOKO and his own students’ union Canonica for years. Even after his studies, he has always been involved in the operations of LOKO and now, he does his bit by taking on the rental deposit cases free of charge. He even has a Wikipedia page.
- How long will it take before I get my money?
That depends on how fast we are able to complete the procedure (as mentioned below). Expect it to at least take a year. If the letter still refuses to refund even though the original procedure was run through completely, the case can drag on for years. Fortunately, in that case an interest accrues on top of the due amount.
What is the procedure like for a rental deposit case? The procedure differs from case to case, but most cases follow this timeline:
- You have a conflict with the landlord about the rental deposit;
- You go to the KU Leuven housing service;
- The housing service starts a mediation attempt;
- Hopefully you are lucky and the mediation attempt has effect. If not …
- The housing service will send the dossier, on your request, to LOKO
- LOKO clusters the dossiers twice in the academic year and sends them to the attorney
- The lawyer will evaluate whether the cases are acceptable or not. Just because a case is accepted doesn't mean it will be won
- A legal procedure is started
- The landlord receives a summons
- The case is brought before the justice of the peace, who passes a judgement. Most cases are done by default. This means, the landlord did not show up in court. In this case, the landlord has some time to make a protest against the judgement
- If the case has been decided in your favour, the following steps will be taken. If the case has gone against you, you will have to pay the legal costs and the procedure will be closed by us.
- With the judgement, we ask the landlord to refund the rental deposit
- Hopefully you are lucky and this time, the landlord does refund the deposit. If not …
- The landlord gives notice of appeal
- The case comes before the justice of the peace again
- Most of the time, the judgement is the same
- Hopefully, you are lucky and the landlord refunds the rental deposit. If not…
- We start a procedure with a bailiff
- The bailiff is summoned and will pass by the landlord to confiscate the money or goods
- It might be necessary that this happens a few times, before it works
- Eventually, you will get your rental deposit back plus the interests. Unfortunately, it might take a while.
Fortunately, you do not have to bother about the case once it is with LOKO, since we will follow up the case as written in the procedure!