SSH agrees to change short-stay contracts
The Groninger Studentenbond (GSb) says this is a step in the right direction. ‘It will enable us to check whether this base rent is in keeping with the value of the room’, explains GSb chair Jan Willem Leeuwma. ‘If it doesn’t, we can have a discussion with SSH.’
The Groningen city council will have a meeting about the new short-stay policy this Wednesday. They’ll determine whether SSH will be allowed to continue working with the controversial short-stay contracts at all. When someone rents a space for a pre-determined length of time on a contract like this, they cannot cancel it. Tenants also don’t have any rent protection.
SSH, the UG, and the Hanze University for Applied Sciences are in favour of continued use of the short-stay contracts. If students are allowed to leave before their contract is up, the UG and the Hanze are responsible for covering the cost of vacant properties until the next academic year. This would be a financial burden.
Only short-stay contracts can guarantee a sufficient number of rooms available for (international) students come September, they say.
Over the past few months, student organisations and political parties have put pressure on SSH to do something about the contracts. In a letter to the city council, the corporation has promised to no longer charge a singular price for its properties, but to differentiate between base rent and service costs.
The corporation is also open to removing the strict termination clause from its contracts. Right now, students can theoretically be kicked out of their rooms for fairly insignificant things, like a single loud party or a broken piece of furniture. SSH says this never actually happens, rendering the clause unnecessary.
While the GSb is happy with the steps SSH is taking, Leeuwma emphasises that short-stay contracts are still unwanted: ‘Students are stuck with these contracts and they can’t go to the rental committee.’
Legal proceedings would be an option in this case, says Leeuwsma. Last year, the court decided that a ten-month contract for the Upsilon flat in Paddepoel counted as a regular rental contract.