City council parties PvdA and Student en Stad want the city to investigate how the energy costs at the small container units at the former Suikerunie location were able to rise from 80 euros a month to 280 euros. ‘You don’t even pay that much for a free-standing house with a low energy rating.’
Both parties sent in written questions to the Groningen mayor and aldermen. The parties say it’s ‘inconceivable’ that the price increase means students have to pay 760 euros a month to live in a container studio. As UKrant reported last week, not all students can pay that high a rent.
‘Besides, I can’t imagine how the energy costs for a small container unit can rise by two hundred euros a month’, says PvdA council member Julian Bushoff. ‘You don’t even pay that much if you had a free-standing house with a low energy rating.’
The parties are also astounded about the fact that the students weren’t informed of the change until after they’d signed a new lease for a year. ‘I want to find out if the price increase is actually correct.’
Last week, UKrant reported on the enormous price hike on the Sugar Homes residents’ energy bills. According to manager Niels van Dalen, the owner isn’t trying to make a profit; it’s genuinely how much the costs have gone up. ‘It’s an issue as much for us as it is for the students’, he said back then.
De PvdA and Student en Stad aren’t satisfied with this explanation. The Sugar Homes tenants pay all-inclusive rent, which means they pay an advance on gas, water, and electricity. The council parties say that increasing the advance is only allowed when the actual costs turn out to be higher.
‘The question is whether they can increase the advance beforehand’, the parties write. ‘Even if that is allowed, it’s still interesting that the rental company already appeared to know about the increase in energy costs before the contracts were renewed but didn’t tell its tenants until after.’
The parties are therefore asking the city to find out whether the rental company’s actions are legally allowed and provide legal assistance to the tenants if necessary.