Although it doesn’t happen very often, sometimes a landlord doesn’t agree with the verdict given by the Rental Committee and therefore sends you a court summons. With this summons he is asking the judge to review your case and take a new decision.
As soon as the summons was delivered to your house, the verdict of the Rental Committee will automatically ‘disappear’; as if it never existed.
It is very important that you bring the court papers to our office as soon as possible. This way we can make sure to hand in the written reaction on time. If you don’t react to the court summons, the judge will automatically assign the claims of your landlord.
The court summons
A court summons comes in a big envelope delivered to you personally by a bailiff. It might be a bit scary; a bailiff showing up to your house. But don’t worry about it too much. This is the only way the landlord can ask for a new decision.
If you are not home at the time the bailiff arrives to your house, he will leave the court papers in your mailbox. A court summons contains the objections of the landlord with regards to the verdict of the Rental Committee. Usually the court papers also have so called ‘producties’. These are the attachments meant to strengthen the landlord’s claims.
On the court summons you will find a date. Although you may think you have to come to court at this date, you don’t have to go to court. You are asked to hand in a written reaction to the court papers before the date mentioned in the legal papers.
Act of response
The written reaction to the court summons is called ‘conclusie van antwoord’, which means something like ‘act of response’. In the act of response we will explain to the judge why the objections of the landlord are incorrect. We will also add a counter claim to reclaim the rent or service costs you overpaid to your landlord. It is also possible to include the claim regarding your deposit or administration costs.
After we handed in the act of response, the judge will decide what will be the next step. Usually the next step is that the landlord gets to react to the act of response.
Act of reply by the landlord
In the act of reply, the landlord gets to react to the statements you made. This should happen within four weeks after you sent in the act of response. He can also send additional proofs as an attachment to his document. If your landlord needs more time to respond to your reaction, just like you can, he can request for an extension of the deadline with four weeks time (for two times maximum).
Final reaction to the court papers
Finally you and the landlord get to respond one more time. After you handed in your final reactions, the judge will usually send his decision in about eight weeks.
Sometimes the judge will schedule an actual hearing to see if it is possible to reach a settlement or to find answers to particular questions he still has after reading both your statements. If this is the case, you will be asked to let the court know which dates you’d be unable to attend the court in the upcoing three months. After both you and your landlord sent in the dates, the court will decide the date of the hearing. A hearing takes about one hour and takes place at only 200 meters from our office . You can bring someone else with you to the court chearing if this makes you feel more comfortable. Usually one of Frently’s team members will also be at the court hearing to support you.
If no settlements was reached during the court hearing or if no court hearing took place, the judge will make a decision about the amount your landlord is supposed to pay you back. The decision will be sent to the lawyers office. As soon as the decision arrives you will receive a receivea copy of it by email. The last step will be reclaiming the money from the landlord. Once the money is in, Frently will prepare the invoice for our services and we will forward the money to your bank account.
How long does a Court case take?
It is very difficult to tell you how long your case will take. A Court procedure takes about eight months on average. However this really depends on the following:
If you or the landlord needs more time to respond to a certain document (the court summons, the act of response, the act of reply or the final reaction), you can request for an extension of the deadline, which is always four weeks after you received the document. This extension is automatically given for a period of another four weeks. If after four weeks you need even more time, you can apply for another four weeks. As you can see these extensions can slow down the procedure considerably.
How much does the court case cost?
You don’t have to pay anything for the court procedure. Most of the costs of the court case are covered by the Dutch government. This is the case if you have a low income and do not have enough savings to cover the costs of an expensive lawyer.
Frently will pay the salary for the lawyer, the court administration fees and in the very rare occasion that we lose a court procedure (<1%), we will also cover the procedure costs.
In the case you receive a letter from the Dutch Council of Legal aid (Raad voor Rechtsbijstand) stating so called: own contribution costs (in Dutch: ‘eigen bijdrage’), you may ignore this letter. You don’t have to pay these costs. Frently is paying for the costs of the court procedure, including the ‘eigen bijdrage’.
Do you want to know what’s the progress of your court case? Check your last email or contact the lawyer handling your case. Not sure which lawyer is dealing with your procedure? Feel free to contact us!