The union, called Landelijke Studentenvakbond (LSVb), publishes an inventory of the price of student accommodation every year. The LSVb asks students all over the country how much they pay in rent and what their housing situation is like. The Dutch law poses limits on rent prices for student housing. Each apartment is awarded a number of points based on factors such as living space and the state of the facilities. The higher a place scores, the more a landlord can charge in rent.
But the LSVb research shows many landlords don’t adhere to these regulations. Nearly 12.000 students filled out an online survey at the web site Check Je Kamer, stating where they live, what kind of room they rent and how much they pay for it monthly.
In over 70 percent of the cases, monthly rent was much more than the legal maximum price – by and average of 105 euros. Private landlords are more likely to exceed the allowed rent than housing corporations, the research also found.
A remarkable 71,5 percent of the survey’s respondents rent from these private parties – even though previous research has shown that in fact, only 44 percent of all students in the Netherlands rent privately. This may distort the outcome of the survey, LSVb admits.
Breaking the law
Still, the results of the study are largely consistent with student experience, according to Sjoerd Kalisvaart, the chairman of local student union Groninger Studentenbond (GSb). Especially the in the case of Groningen, since a large majority of the survey respondents hail from here. ‘If there’s any accuracy to this study, it’s most accurate for Groningen’, says Kalisvaart.
Although Groningen prices lie a little lower than those in cities like Utrecht, Amsterdam and The Hague, there is a striking amount of students who overpay: 74 percent of all Groningen respondents.
‘This is due to the enormous private market we deal with here’, Kalisvaart believes. ‘Groningen has about five sizable rent agencies who structurally break the law. Many students rent with one of those agencies, which is why many are overcharged.’ On average, a duped student in Groningen spends 82,23 euros too much on their rent monthly.
‘Ask for a decrease’
These outcomes do not surprise GSb, Kalisvaart states. ‘We were expecting something along these lines, and we’re happy to see the numbers support our observations. Still, this is more alarming than we thought. 82 euros per month is a lot of money.’
The municipality is currently working on a new system of licenses for landlords. These should put an end to the exploitative housing costs. It is as of yet unknown when the new licenses will be instated; the municipal council is supposed to discuss the matter in its September meeting.
Until then, it is vital students protest if they feel they’re overcharged, Kalisvaart emphasizes. ‘Go to the renting committee, don’t be afraid to ask for a rent decrease.’ And what if your landlord resorts to intimidation in an attempt to change your mind? ‘Then you should absolutely report them to the police.’