The housing crisis in Groningen is leading to more and more people accidentally signing for properties that aren’t all they seem. Tri Tran, an Assistant Professor at the RUG, is just one such person- signing for a mouldy apartment following an online viewing
By Dr Tri Mikael Tran
The housing crisis in Groningen is well-discussed in numerous platforms and each of us experiences it in a different way. I got an apartment through an online viewing and was content with the situation, until I moved in.
It was at that moment that I realised that the apartment was mouldy, had water damage, and leaking pipes inside the wall and under the sink. As the cherry on top, when I opened the washing machine, water came pouring out and flooded the floor. Water must have been trapped inside the washing machine from another leaking pipe. The air inside the apartment had itself become musty from all the flood water.
I first demanded that the situation needed to be fixed, but after two days of no reaction from the landlord, I decided to terminate the contract based on the ground that the landlord did not keep his end of the bargain and the apartment posed a health risk to me.
I was mentally prepared to lose my first month rent and the deposit, but the rental agent promised to get my money back.
The lessons that I learned from this ordeal are as follows.
- Online viewings are great but can’t show everything- don’t take an agent or landlord’s word for something!
- You should also be cautious with potential water leakage and mould: run water down the sink check if the pipes under the sink leaks, make sure that the walls are dry. If you are in a physical viewing, also pay attention to the smell. If it smells mouldy, then there probably is some water leakage.
- Check the kitchen/shower/bathroom/toilet to make sure everything works. Ask permission to check the appliances, especially those with water connection, e.g., (dish) washing machine, if the apartment comes with them.
- Most importantly, take photos and videos of everything when you move in. Create a shared folder with the landlord (e.g., on Google Drive) to have a record of the condition of the apartment when you move in.
The photos and videos would also help you in case you end up in a legal battle against your landlord. If you find yourself in a similar situation, Rental Law Consultancy Frently and JuridischeLocket provide free legal consultation.
If you’ve experienced some of the lower depths of Groningen’s awful housing market, get in touch with The Northern Times (firstname.lastname@example.org), we’d love to hear your story.