Below are the answers to frequently asked questions.
To whom does the ruling of 26 January 2022 apply?
The ruling applies to residents (owners and tenants) who have (had) a connection to the heat network of Ennatuurlijk (or its legal predecessors) before 1 January 2014, for which an annual connection fee is (or has been) charged. The ruling does not apply to residents who have entered into an agreement with Ennatuurlijk after 1 January 2014. Since 2014 Ennatuurlijk has not charged an annual connection fee for new connections, or this connection fee has been explicitly stated in the delivery contract. The ruling does also not apply to residents who have not previously accepted Ennatuurlijk’s offer to phase out the annual connection fee in three years.
Does the court ruling of 26 January 2022 also apply to second owners of self-built homes?
The ruling also applies to second owners of self-built homes who were connected to the heat network of Ennatuurlijk before 1 January 2014 and to whom an annual connection fee is or has been charged.
Why is the court ruling not applicable to residents who have entered into an agreement with Ennatuurlijk since 2014?
Since 2014 Ennatuurlijk has not charged an annual connection fee for new connections, or this connection fee has been explicitly stated in the delivery contract
My home is part of the Het Groene Hof project. On annual statements made before 1 January 2014, I don’t see any ‘connection fee’ either. How is that possible?
There is an exception for the Het Groene Hof project. According to our information, Ennatuurlijk did not charge an annual connection fee for the connections in that project, not even before 1 January 2014.
A few years ago I accepted Ennatuurlijk’s offer to reduce the annual connection fee to zero over a period of three years. Does the court ruling of 26 January 2022 also apply to me?
If you accepted Ennatuurlijk’s offer at the time, then you have signed a settlement agreement as a ‘counterpart’. In that agreement, you stated that you waive your right to claim back from Ennatuurlijk the connection fees you have already paid. We are currently studying the court ruling, but expect that you will have little chance of reclaiming the connection fees already paid. Nevertheless, we advise you to keep an eye on our communications.
Why does the ruling not apply to residents in Meerrijk and Waterrijk?
Two heat suppliers are active in Meerhoven: the Municipality of Eindhoven (in Meerrijk and a part of Waterrijk, Bosrijk and Landhof), and Ennatuurlijk (in Zandrijk and the largest part of Grasrijk). The municipality of Eindhoven does not charge an annual connection fee. Please note that the municipality contracts out the invoicing to Ennatuurlijk, which makes it appear that Ennatuurlijk is the supplier.
How can I check whether the annual connection fee is (or has been) charged?
You can check this in four ways:
- Log on to mijnwarmte.nl and then click on ‘Rates’ in the left-hand menu. You will then see an overview of the current rates charged to you by Ennatuurlijk. If ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (connection fee) is mentioned in the overview, Ennatuurlijk charges the annual connection fee.
- Consult the paper annual statement 2012/2013 or later from Ennatuurlijk or its legal predecessor Essent. Look for the cost item ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (connection fee). If this cost item is mentioned, Ennatuurlijk charges the annual connection fee. Please note that this cost item is not explicitly stated on annual statements issued in 2011 and earlier, but is included under the cost item ‘vastrecht’ (fixed charge).
- Did you receive a letter with subject ‘Termination of heating connection fee’ from Essent in December 2011 and/or a mail or letter with subject ‘Municipal heating Meerhoven’ from Essent in December 2012? If so, Ennatuurlijk charges extra connection fees.
- In mid-November 2016, you received an offer from Ennatuurlijk to reduce the connection fee to zero over three years.
Why is the cost item ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (connection fee) missing from the annual statement 2011/2012 and older?
Until 2012, the annual connection fee was not visible on the annual statement because they were ‘hidden’ in the cost item ‘vastrecht’ (fixed charges). From 2012 onwards, the annual connection fee is explicitly mentioned on the annual statement with the description ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (connection fee), due to ‘tariff transparency’.
How can we recover the overpaid costs?
In a press release, Ennatuurlijk states that it is surprised by the court ruling. The energy company is studying the ruling with its legal advisers and is considering an appeal. At the same time, Ennatuurlijk is calling on (former) customers to register via a form on the website of Ennatuurlijk if they believe that the court ruling applies to them. This appeal suggests that Ennatuurlijk is considering refunding the annual connection fee. Ennatuurlijk has not yet made a commitment to do so. We advise residents to contact Ennatuurlijk, but not to take any follow-up action for the time being. A possible offer from Ennatuurlijk may contain unfavourable conditions. It is also possible that residents will not receive a full refund of the costs to which they are entitled. Several years ago, Ennatuurlijk made an offer to reduce the annual connection fee in three years’ time. People who accepted that offer at the time simultaneously waived their right to reclaim the annual connection charges already paid at a later date. Residents who are registred for the collective of Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven will receive further instructions on how to proceed.
Do I have to register with the Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven to reclaim the costs?
In principle, no. Ennatuurlijk has called on all (former) customers to register via a form on the website of Ennatuurlijk if they believe that the court ruling applies to them. This call suggests that Ennatuurlijk is considering refunding the annual connection fee. Ennatuurlijk has not yet made a commitment to do so. We advise residents to contact Ennatuurlijk, but not to take any follow-up action for the time being. A possible offer from Ennatuurlijk may contain unfavourable conditions. It is also possible that residents will not receive a full refund of the costs to which they are entitled. Several years ago, Ennatuurlijk made an offer to reduce the annual connection fee in three years’ time. People who accepted that offer at the time simultaneously waived their right to reclaim the annual connection charges already paid at a later date. Residents who are registred for the collective of Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven will receive further instructions on how to proceed. The advantage of registering with the foundation is that you will receive tailor-made advice and support in tackling other abuses involving district heating.
Can I still register with the Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven?
You can still register with the Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven. Residents who are entitled to legal aid we ask no contribution. But you should then contact your legal insurance company in advance. Residents who are not entitled to legal aid will be charged a contribution of 50 euros per household. Members of Residents’ Association Meerhoven will receive a collective discount of 20 euros. You can register via www.stadsverwarming-eindhoven.nl/en/collective-action. The collective action consists of conducting various legal proceedings in which we ask the court to establish that costs have been wrongfully charged by Ennatuurlijk. See www.stadsverwarming-eindhoven.nl/en/wrongdoings. One of the cost items concerns the annual connection fee. The court recently ruled on that cost item. The other disputed items are still under investigation. There is no court case yet.
I have not received an update while other residents have. Why am I not receiving an update?
It is possible that our updates are incorrectly marked as spam. Check the spam folder of your mail programme. It is also possible that you have changed your e-mail address but have not notified us of this change. Another possibility is that you have not registered with us or have not confirmed your participation in the collective action with us. At the beginning of 2018, we called on residents several times to confirm their participation in the collective action to Ennatuurlijk and to make a contribution to the costs. We did not ask residents who were entitled to legal aid to contribute. Residents who had not confirmed their participation by 21 May 2018 were informed that they would not receive any further updates unless they confirmed their participation via our website. You can confirm your participation at www.stadsverwarming-eindhoven.nl/en/collective-action. You will then also receive updates about the collective action.
How can I make a change in my email address and other personal information with the foundation?
You can change your email address and other personal details yourself through the customer portal of the Municipal Heating Foundation Eindhoven. Your username is the same as the email address you originally registered with. If you have forgotten your password, click on ‘Forgot password’. You will then receive an email with instructions to reset your password.
Your step-by-step plan states that you will receive a confirmation of receipt after registering with Ennatuurlijk. However, I have not received a confirmation. How is that possible?
The confirmation has probably been marked as spam wrongly. Check the spam folder of your e-mail programme. If you do not find a confirmation of receipt there, please complete the form on the Ennatuurlijk website again or contact Ennatuurlijk.
I have lived at several addresses with an Ennatuurlijk heat connection and can only fill in the Ennatuurlijk web form once.
The reason why you cannot fill in again the form on the website of Ennatuurlijk is that after you have filled in the form, a so-called ‘cookie’ is placed on your computer, tablet or smartphone. This is a small file that prevents you from filling out the form again with the same e-mail address. There are several ways to fill in the form again:
- Use the in private or incognito mode of your browser (that mode ignores cookies).
- Use a different web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox).
- Use a different computer, tablet or smartphone.
- Use a different email address.
- Delete the cookies in the settings of your browser.
If you have not already completed the form, you can enter multiple addresses and periods separated by a comma in the same form.
Frequently asked questions regarding legal assistance
I have changed my insurance company. Does that have consequences for this case?
This depends on the policy conditions of your current and previous legal expenses insurer. As a rule, when you switch, the old insurer will reimburse the legal costs because the dispute arose during the term of the old insurance. In addition, experience has shown that when insurance policies match, one of the two insurers will always provide cover. However, it is important to check with both insurers. Therefore, to be on the safe side, we advise you to submit this question to both insurers.
Can I still report the case to my legal expenses insurer?
Residents with legal expenses insurance who have not yet reported the case to their legal expenses insurer are strongly advised to do so. Report the dispute preferably online via the website of your legal assistance insurer. We have prepared a ready-made letter. You can download this letter via the following link (in Dutch): www.stadsverwarming-eindhoven.nl/voorbeeldbrief-rechtsbijstand. Sign the letter with your name and upload the letter via the website of your insurer. Do not make any further changes to the letter. You can also first call your insurance company. Most insurers are familiar with the issue and work closely with us. Let your insurer know that we have stopped the case for you. Your insurer can request the original bouncing letter via email@example.com.
I do not have legal expenses insurance. What now?
Residents who are not insured for legal assistance or who do not have coverage for the district heating issue within their legal expenses insurance policy do not need to take any action at this time. We have held various discussions with a legal assistance insurer about a collective action for residents without legal assistance or cover. For the time being, we are waiting for such collective action until the results of the appeal are known. This way we can better respond to the situation. Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven has interrupted the limitation period of the claim of all users of district heating in Eindhoven by means of a bounce letter. With this, the limitation period from the date of interruption is extended by five years. For insured persons, the claim is or will be interrupted by the legal assistance insurer.
Which date should I mention to the question ‘On what date did the dispute arise’?
State the date on which we have called in residents to report their case to their legal expenses insurer. This date is February 28, 2016.
A claim date is requested. What date do you advise to pass on?
The date on which damage arose is the date on which you moved into the house and entered into an agreement with Ennatuurlijk or its legal predecessor. Incidentally, you were not at that time known with the fact that you actually suffered damage.
You will be asked for the date on which I registered for the mailing list of the Werkgroep Stadsverwarming Meerhoven / Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven. How do I get behind that date?
After registration on our mailing list you have received a confirmation email from us. The date this email was sent corresponds to the date you signed up. Inform the insurer that on that date you could not reasonably have known that you actually had any damage but that this became clear later. If you can not find the confirmation email, please mention the date of the first update you received from us.
My legal expenses insurer has approved my request to have the (advocate of the) Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven act on my behalf. What now?
The legal assistance insurer will contact the (lawyer of the) Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven. You no longer have to take any action. We will periodically keep you informed of the progress.
My legal assistance insurer indicates that she does not join the Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven and handles all disputes herself. What now?
As long as no legal proceedings have yet to be conducted, the legal expenses insurer may deal with the dispute itself. If a legal procedure is necessary, then as an insured legal person you have the right to choose your own lawyer. The legal expenses insurer will then call on this lawyer to conduct the legal proceedings on your behalf. Some insurers do not explicitly mention this. Ask your insurer (once again) permission to be represented by the (the lawyer of the) Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven and indicate that you want to be represented by the foundation when it comes to legal proceedings. We have built up vast file knowledge in recent years. By having the case handled by a lawyer who has already been incorporated, costs are saved and it is also prevented that several separate programs will start running.
My legal expenses insurer comes up with the proposal to ‘stop’ the prescription of my claim. Do I have to go into that proposal?
By ‘stopping’ the claim it can be prevented that the case will lapse. Let the legal expenses insurer know that it is much more efficient if the Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven hits the case on behalf of all the victims in Eindhoven by means of one letter. This is to prevent that various separate processes will start running that also differ from one another in terms of content. If the insurer does not agree with this, let the insurer stop the case on your behalf. Please note that the insurer encounters the claims regarding all the fogging around the district heating in Eindhoven and not only the claim with regard to the connection fee (insofar as this applies to you). For all misses, see the standard notification letter in which a summary of all points is given.
My legal expenses insurer wants to check to what extent the claim is barred. For this, the insurer asks all kinds of information about the connection fee. Do I have to respond to this?
Yes. In principle, you must provide the insurer with all relevant information. In this way, the insurer can assess to what extent the issue also applies to you. Inform the insurer that the issue does not only relate to the connection fee. Refer the insurer (again) to the notification letter that you sent to the insurer. If you can not find certain information, let the legal expenses insurer know. Ask them to possibly contact the Stichting Stadsverwarming Eindhoven.
My legal expenses insurer asks me for permission to be included in a mailing list for all insured parties of this insurer. If I do not respond, it is assumed that I have no objection. What is your advice in this?
We advise the legal expenses insurer to give permission to be included in the mailing list.
My legal assistance insurer asks for a copy of the letter (from Essent) in which it is announced for the first time that a membership fee will be charged to me. How do I get that letter?
Most residents with district heating who were living in Eindhoven at the end of 2011 received a letter from Essent around 9 December 2011. This letter stated that certain cost items within the framework of tariff transparency would henceforth be specified on the annual settlement, including the ‘connection fee’. If you came to live in Eindhoven later, you probably did not receive this letter. If you do not have the letter (anymore), inform the legal assistance insurer accordingly. Incidentally, it may be that in your case no connection fee will be charged. (This may be the case if you live in the neighborhoods Waterrijk and Meerrijk or if your home is part of the project Het Groene Hof in Grasrijk). You can check for yourself to what extent the connection fee will be charged. See next question.
How can I check whether Ennatuurlijk is charging a membership fee?
You can check this in three ways:
- Log in to http://mijnwarmte.nl (a website of energy company Ennatuurlijk) and then click on ‘Tarieven’ (Rates) in the left menu. You will then receive an overview of the current rates that Ennatuurlijk will charge you. If the overview contains the ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (Connection contribution), Ennatuurlijk will charge extra connection costs. </ Span> </ li>
- Consult the paper annual statement 2012/2013 or later of Ennatuurlijk or its legal predecessor Essent. Look for the ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (Connection contribution) item. In general this item is under the heading ‘Uw verbruik’ (Your consumption, sub-heading ‘Vaste kosten’ (Fixed costs). You may also find this item under the heading ”Samenstelling nieuw voorschot (maandbedrag)’ (Composition of new advance (monthly amount)). If the cost item ‘Aansluitbijdrage’ (Connection contribution) is mentioned, Ennatuurlijk charges additional connection costs. </ Li>
- In December 2011 you received a letter with the subject ‘Termination of heat contribution’ from Essent and / or in December 2012 received an email or letter with subject ‘Stadsverwarming Meerhoven’ from Essent? If so, Ennatuurlijk charges additional connection costs. </ Li>
- You have received an offer from Ennatuuraal in mid-November 2016 to reduce the connection fee to zero euros in three years. </ li>
Why is the cost item ‘Connection contribution’ missing from the annual statement for 2011/2012 and older?
Until 2012, the additional connection costs were not visible on the annual statement because these costs were ‘hidden’ in the standing fee. As of 2012, the additional connection costs for ‘tariff transparency’ are explicitly stated on the annual settlement with the description ‘Connection fee’.
According to my legal assistance insurer, I am not insured for events that were foreseen when the insurance was taken out. Before taking out the insurance, I would already be familiar with the abuses surrounding the district heating system. How do you advise to deal with this?
The reason for the district heating issue is in many cases the letter from Essent dated 9 December 2011 that most residents in Eindhoven received with district heating at the time. In that letter it was stated that certain cost items within the framework of tariff transparency would henceforth be further specified on the annual settlement. But then you could not reasonably yet know that Essent incorrectly charges costs. Perhaps you were not even the owner / tenant of a home with district heating in Eindhoven. Only after a limited number of residents had deepened in this complex matter did they come to the conclusion that Essent / Naturally incurs non-agreed costs. In the years that followed, all sorts of other misconduct related to district heating came to light. One example is the issue in which Ennatuurlijk erroneally charges rent for the heat exchanger since 2014. This issue was not discussed in 2014.
Let the insurer know that after the call of 28 February 2016 you were only aware of the fact that the situation actually applied to you. Also indicate that various abuses only recently came to light.
According to my legal assistance insurer (FBTO), the right to request assistance from my insurer if I do not report the dispute within 3 years after it arose. How to act?
See answer above. Let the insurer know that after the call of 28 February 2016 you were only aware of the fact that the situation actually applied to you. Also indicate that various abuses only recently came to light. Should the insurer believe that the 3-year period has been exceeded, the insurer would point out that this is in no way prejudiced financially and it is therefore unreasonable not to deal with the case.
I recently switched to another legal assistance insurer. The new insurer rejects the request because the matter was already running at the time that I was insured with my previous legal expenses insurer. How should I act now?
Let your current insurer know that the date on which you became aware of the fact that you had damage is 28 February. If on that date you were still insured with another insurer, please contact your old insurer and report that during the term of the legal expenses insurance you are confronted with damage and want to report the matter. Legal assistance for this dispute is then probably covered by your old policy. If your old legal expenses insurance policy seamlessly matches your new legal expenses insurance, you probably do not have to deal with the mandatory waiting period within which you can not claim your new insurance. Consult the policy conditions to be sure.