By taking out its own energy contract, the Sugar Homes owners expect the energy costs for the container units at the Suikerunie location, which rose exponentially a few months ago, to go back down again. However, the students will have to pay the costs from the past few months.
In late January, the 250 residents of the container units were aghast to find their energy bill had risen exponentially. They suddenly had to pay 280 euros a month instead of the 80 euros they paid before.
The students refused to pay the increase, saying it was illegal for their contracts to be altered when they’d already been signed. Around a hundred students banded together to seek legal representation. As it turns out, they haven’t been charged yet for the increase.
‘I think the students were right, and that we acted a bit too brashly when we implemented the price hike’, says Niels van Dalen, representing StudentHousing (STHO), which owns the units. ‘It would have been better if we’d presented them with a proposal.’
But that doesn’t change the fact that energy costs are part of the service costs, and that the students pay an advance. The final bill gets calculated at the end of the calendar year. If what residents paid was more than the costs incurred, they’ll get money back. But if it was more, they’ll have to pay the excess.
‘We acknowledge that our communication was lacking, but prices have gone up worldwide over the past few months, and we’ve had to deal with that’, says Van Dalen. STHO wanted to pass on the increase to students in instalments rather than present them with a single giant bill at the end.
STHO was also surprised by the price hike. They were given the bill by landlord company Exploitatie Suikerunieterrein, which purchases energy for the entire location. ‘We’re now trying to get our own contract’, says Van Dalen. According to him, they’ve almost sorted it. ‘We’re waiting for the grid operator’s confirmation.’
But even with the new contract, the energy costs will still rise, since prices have been rising everywhere. ‘Hopefully, though, what happened the past few months was an exception, and we’ll be able to supply existing and future students cheaper energy the next few months.’