In September 2017, Simon Bestwil was posted to Bangkok by his employer for a period of five years. Before he left for Thailand with his family, Bestwil had rented out his home in the Vogelwijk for the same term to a Unilever employee, Kees Sikkeneurig.
The real estate agent who had drawn up the lease had included a so-called diplomatic clause. If Bestwil were to return to the Netherlands early, Sikkeneurig would hav to leave the rented house and could not invoke rent protection.
When Bestwil called me at the end of 2020, he sounded panicky. “I have been promoted within my company and am getting a position at the head office in Amsterdam. So we have to move to the Netherlands again in three months. But now my tenant refuses to leave our house. I got a letter from his lawyer, Mr. Knor.”
On behalf of Kees Sikkeneurig, Mr. Knor invoked rent protection. His client had not been sufficiently aware of the consequences of the diplomatic clause when entering into the lease. So Sikkeneurig stayed where he was. My client had to find accommodation elsewhere with his family.
At Simon Bestwil’s request, I then requested the eviction of the house rented by Sikkeneurig in summary proceedings. I invoked the diplomatic clause. “My client is a legal layperson,” Mr. Knor argued at the hearing. “He was never told that he was giving up his right to rent control.”
The judge did not agree with that defence. “Not only is your client intelligent enough to understand the content of the not particularly complicated provision, but I also read in the documents that he was advised by the legal department of his employer Unilever. It means your client needs to vacate. A deal is a deal.”
Four months after the eviction notice, Mr. Knor called. He was angry. “Your client has hoodwinked us all. He moved to Amsterdam with his family and sold the house in the Vogelwijk. Sikkeneurig has sorted it all out and wants compensation.”
When I confronted Simon Bestwil with the story by phone, he reacted laconically. “It’s about right. My wife was offered a job in Buitenveldert last month. For us it was much more practical to live in Amsterdam. Well, if you know everything in advance. Life sometimes takes strange turns.”
And whatever else I thought of that response, it was at least a diplomatic response.
This column was written for Den Haag Centraal, in which Raymond de Mooij writes monthly about what he experiences in his practice.