Local authority caves in to legal pressure

The landlord of a large number of properties in a particular local authority area in the Netherlands came to us for assistance. Some time previously, a foundation had approached him asking to rent a property. The foundation was entirely dependent on a subsidy from the local authority. Our client had therefore required a provision stipulating that if the foundation was no longer able to pay its rent the local authority would make the payment as guarantor. The local authority agreed to this.

Shortly after this, the local authority halved its subsidy to the foundation and some time later the funding was withdrawn entirely. The foundation was unable to pay the rent and therefore our client sought to rely on the local authority guarantee. The

local authority did all it could to avoid paying. It strung our client along and tried to fob him off with far-fetched arguments, probably hoping that he would give up. However, he refused to do so and sought advice from our firm.

We immediately made it clear to the local authority that they needed to change their tactics now by enclosing a draft writ for summary proceedings with our letter. The message was unequivocal: if payment is still not received, court proceedings will follow straight away. Within a short time the local authority informed us that it was now prepared to comply with its obligations and the money was soon paid.

This case again shows that local authorities often try to buy time with irrelevant arguments in the hope that the other party will give up. We have witnessed this tactic often in other cases involving local authorities or other government bodies. In this situation aiming for an amicable settlement, despite being often the preferred option, is not generally the best approach and immediate action needs to be taken. Sometimes the right amount of legal pressure is what’s needed to ensure a swift resolution.