29 March 2013

Friends: The right of cooptation

By Marie-Christine Veltkamp-van Paassen

Wouldn’t it be perfect if you rented a room and were allowed to choose your own housemates?

Just like in the TV series Friends, where Joey, Ross and the rest all had their own room, and a shared kitchen and bathroom.

But what happens in terms of the law when Ross moves out because he wants more room for his palaeontology-books, or when Rachel moves out because she’s about to have a baby? In situations like these it is important that the friends who stay behind are allowed to co-opt a new housemate, instead of having to live with any goofy new tenant the landlord might choose.

Dutch civil law

In Dutch civil law there are no special rules on cooptation rights when renting a room. Therefore it’s important for landlord and tenant to describe the right of cooptation clearly in the tenancy contract.

Sub-district court Amsterdam, LJN: BY7974

In the law case of Sub-district court Amsterdam, LJN: BY7974, six tenants rented rooms in a house in 2007. They jointly signed one contract with the landlord, and in that contract the right of cooptation was stipulated as follows: Article 10. The tenants have the right to co-opt new tenants, as long as there are no more than six tenants, and as long as the landlord is informed when there is a change of tenants.

The landlord’s point of view

During the years after, the tenants changed several times. None of the new tenants signed a new tenancy contract, however in (nearly) all cases the landlord (and later his successor) was informed sooner or later.

In 2012, the successor of the landlord wanted to evict the current tenants, because in his opinion they did not have a tenancy contract, and he did not feel bound by the cooptation agreement that was contracted with the original landlord. Also he stipulated that he was not or not immediately informed about some of the new tenants, and he felt that it was unreasonable to maintain the present situation.

The verdict

The sub-district court rejected all the landlord’s complaints, and found that the present situation was entirely in line with the agreement as described in the original contract. The current tenants are the successors of the original tenants, so the original tenancy contract does still apply to them. The right of cooptation is one of the key elements in the contract with which the successor of the landlord has to comply. Even if the landlord was not or not immediately informed about new tenants, this did not justify the termination of the contract. There are no known circumstances that conclude to an unreasonable situation.

Tips and tricks for the landlord

The Higher Court The Hague, LJN: AI0508 decided that the right of cooptation does not imply that tenants have the right to decide whether a vacant room is to be rented out again or not. This right remains only with the landlord. If he decides that he doesn’t want to rent out a vacant room again, the other tenants have to respect this.


If clearly stipulated in the contract, the right of cooptation can be a strong right with obvious benefits.

Get help

Would you like to negotiate with your landlord on a right of cooptation? Do you have other questions about the right of cooptation? I’ll be happy to inform you. You can contact me here.

Marie-Christine Veltkamp-van Paasen

Marie-Christine Veltkamp-van Paassen

Lawyer / associate partner

Marie-Christine Veltkamp-van Paassen is an experienced real estate lawyer.

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