Tenant pays in the end

My Belgian client owns a property in the Netherlands, which she rented to a third party. When she came to me, the tenancy agreement had already terminated but the tenant had not yet paid the rent in full. At this point, the rent payments were 14 months in arrears.

The tenant considered that she had a valid reason not to pay the overdue rent. On first entering into the tenancy agreement (four years earlier), my client had unintentionally provided the wrong VAT number. At that time, the tenant suspended payment of rent. Once the landlord was informed of the situation and provided the correct VAT number, the tenant began paying rent again.

Despite this, the tenant kept using the incorrect VAT number as an excuse[E1] and asking to be provided with all kinds of evidence that the new number was correct before making payment. The tenant had already been provided with proof confirming the new VAT number on several occasions and she had been making her regular payments of rent for some time, but she then stopped payments. By now, my client had had enough.

After discussing the situation with my client, I put the pressure on by enclosing a draft writ with the letter before action. In the writ, I argued that the tenant was not entitled to rely on any right of suspension. The tenant then suggested that she would make payment once the VAT that had been incorrectly paid four years ago had been refunded to her by the tax office. Having waited four years already, my client was not prepared to wait any longer, so I informed the tenant that we would proceed to issue the writ. This had the desired effect: the tenant changed her tactics and finally paid the outstanding rent and the associated costs.

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