A foreign student, who moved to Cluj-Napoca, 1 year ago, just returned to Cluj after a short break to his home country, to an absolutely unimaginable situation. The owner, who had been receiving monthly payments of €290 per month has kept his security deposit of €580 (2 months’ rent), accepted the rent for October, but changed the locks of the apartment, falsely accusing the tenant of breaking the contract.
The student, who’s contract technically was set to renew or terminate at the end of September, arrived back in Cluj and met with the owner to discuss his plans to move out from the apartment by the end of October, after deciding to move in with a friend and share a place. The owner of the apartment, accepted the rent for October and the student officially gave his 30 day notice. However, without warning, the owner of the apartment called him back after a few days to inform him that he must leave the property the following Monday.
The desperate student contacted a number of people, who have been offering assistance for his situation, including “Asociația Chiriașilor Cluj“, a team of individuals who have been setting up meetings and organising events aimed at raising awareness of poor rental practices in Cluj and who are also to trying to implement a more western-style of rental system, explained to the student that he had done nothing to breach the contract, and that he is entirely within his rights to receive his deposit back, and remain at the property until the end of October.
The student arrived back at his rented accommodation in the later hours of Monday 8th, October 2018, to find that the locks were changed by the owner, with his possessions still inside the property. The police informed that they cannot make forced entry to the apartment, due to the fact that technically the original contract has passed it’s expiration date, which makes taking any measures to forcefully enter the property rather difficult.
In addition to contacting Asociația Chiriașilor Cluj, the student also contacted local agency “Student Mob” during the previous week, who assisted with the original contracting of the apartment and facilitated the rental agreement between the tenant and the owner. Unfortunately, the agency apparently didn’t provide much support to the student, who feels that the agency should take more responsibility to ensure that the property owners rent the property within the boundaries of the law.
The agency, who has been highlighted as one of the go-to agencies for students to locate rental apartments provided a contract in Romanian, to a non-Romanian speaking person and the student feels as though he was at a significant disadvantage. After seeking a lawyer’s opinion, it seems the contract is relatively low quality and is missing some important terms. For an agency who’s primary market is students, and with many foreign students living in Cluj-Napoca, to not fulfil the basic obligations of providing a secure agreement between the owner and the tenant, raises rather serious questions about other rental contracts which may have been initiated by the agency, who also provide services under “Pet Friendly Apartments” and “Apartments for rent in Cluj near Universities“.
In general, the apartments offered by the agency tend to be more affordable, and the commission for the apartment lower than some of the other agencies located in the city.
THE LEGAL SITUATION:
Under Romanian contract law, the tenant of a rented property can leave the property after the given expiration date without any prior notice, however, if the tenant remains at the property and continues to fulfil his or her obligations, without any opposition from the owner, a new lease is deemed to be accepted, subject to the old terms (including any guarantees), but for an indefinite duration, unless a new contract is provided, according to Imobiliare.ro
In normal situations, when a contract is finished, you will sign an agreement that you will vacate the premises on a certain date, return the keys and ensure the apartment is in good condition, in exchange for the security deposit.
This technically means, that the property owner should have provided the student with his deposit back and asked him to leave upon his arrival back in Cluj-Napoca, but instead, they accepted another full months’ rent and his request to leave with 30 days notice, despite him not technically being required to give the notice.
The owner of the apartment claims that, “because he did not give the 30-days notice that he was going to leave, he is not entitled to his deposit of €580”. This statement was challenged by a representative of Asociația Chiriașilor Cluj during a conversation on the phone with them, in which we were present, because legally, the tenant did not break his contract, nor did he indicate at the time, that he would be planning to leave the apartment, despite having every right to leave without prior notice, upon expiration of the original contract. In addition, the owner denies receiving the rent for October of €290, which means in total, the owner of the apartment is illegally in possession of the students money, totalling €870.
Technically, if the owner had created a new contract or extension, with new dates defined, and the tenant signed the new contract, only then is a 30-day notification period necessary and required.
The owner did not provide any written receipts for rental payments throughout the entire year, but the student did conduct at least one bank transfer of the rent, in addition to receiving messages from the owner on a monthly basis to arrange the rent collection. With a valid rental contract still in-hand, had already agreed to rent the new apartment with his friend, and therefore does have a place to stay, but only agreed to pay for the extra 30 days as he felt that he had an obligation toward the owner, which legally, he did not.
With legal action on the horizon and a number of people who say that these sorts of actions are all-too-common in the current Cluj-Napoca rental market, Asociația Chiriașilor Cluj advises tenants of the following:
- It’s good to have receipts and papers for all the payments you make, as this can save you in such cases
- A payment by bank transfer should include in the description, that it is for the rent of the apartment
- Take an inventory of the apartment upon moving in to prevent any future issues
- “Don’t be tricked by the threats from the owner”; the moment you pay the rent, you are legally protected and cannot be evicted without a court order.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The student, who has now had his return to Cluj turned upside-down, will initiate legal proceedings, but is clearly reaching out for any assistance with regards to supporting this case, as he feels, like many, that this has been happening for way too long and something needs to be done.
This has the potential to be a turning-point in the way that such cases of returning security deposits can be handled.
STATEMENT FROM STUDENT MOB (AGENCY)
We were the 1st ones to call his landlord. We tried to fix it by contacting her but unfortunately she answered in how to say it in a very dirty way. Believe it or not we tried with her and we suffer as well because of their bad behavior (Landlords) and we still do not understand why she didn’t give him his deposit back that’s a very mean thing to do.
So unfortunately a contract does mean nothing if the contract is not getting to (ANAF) the financial department so it will be legalized and stamped.
It can be a printed one or even manually written, the most important thing that the contract should get to (ANAF) to have a value to it, but nobody can do that if the landlord is not taking that step.
And here in cluj it’s a known fact that if they are going to (ANAF) they are paying a lot of unjustified monthly taxes that’s why the common thing to do is not going there.
Our standard contract is very clear we are mentioning all the necessary stuff (the name of both parties, how much is the rent, the deposit, when to move in the apartment .. etc) but again if the landlord not taking that contract to ANAF it does not have a value.
Anyway we think that it’s a little bit wrong to blame us and our contract knowing that we tried to fix as much as we can and we do care but if the landlord didn’t legalized the contract and she doesn’t want to give him his guaranty back.
We are some student trying our best to find the best deals to our clients especially students, we are not police officers and we are not lawyers.
And our colleague who was there is not working with us anymore and The landlord she didn’t go to ANAF and she didn’t even make an English contract.
Again more and more landlords should go to ANAF to register and legalize their contracts and we will try to make that happen especially with foreigner students we are still learning and we will try our best to be more careful in the future .