Sugar Homes owner charges students €200 extra per month for electricity (and they live in a container) (UPDATE)

The owners of the Sugar Homes containers are attempting to charge students an extra 200 euros a month just for electricity bills. Due to this increase, many students doubt they’ll be able to keep living there.

On Friday, the 250 students living in the shipping-containers at the former sugar factory site were shocked by an email informing them their energy bills will rocket to 280 euros a month.

The electricity costs for the containers, which are advertised as studios, were previously capped at 80 euros. The 250 percent increase in energy costs will raise the all-inclusive rent price to 760 euros a month.

Many of the Sugar Homes students that spoke to UKrant said this means they can’t afford to continue living in the containers. However, the students are thrown into a stressful situation because if they terminate their contracts they risk losing the 700 euro they paid as a deposit to the owners.


‘As of right now I’m not going to be able to make enough money to pay for my rent in March. I’m going to have to take a loan or reach out to my relatives to borrow some money’, religious studies student Eóin Crawley says.

‘I might be able to afford the 760 euro rent, but I will now have to choose between paying rent and buying groceries. A lot of people are in my situation’, explained Crawley.

The Sugar Homes owners are also trying to convince the students to pay 400 euros extra which they want to backdate for January and February – despite students already having paid their rent for these months. 

The Sugar Homes containers were created as emergency housing, but now they’re the ones causing the emergency

According to an email seen by UKrant, the Sugar Homes complex was informed on December 23, 2021 by its energy provider that prices were going to increase. But the Sugar Homes owners waited thirty-six days before informing their tenants of this massive change.

Students felt blindsided by this move as this would have been crucial information for them to decide whether or not to extend their contracts in the new year.


In an email sent to students, Sugar Homes owners STHO CV, through complex managers Groningse Panden B.V., said that their energy provider was raising the electricity costs to 0.41 euros per kWh (excl. VAT). According to the Sugar Homes complex, in 2021 the energy costs were 0.12 euros per kWh (excl. VAT).

‘The Sugar Homes containers were created as emergency housing, but now they’re the ones causing the emergency’, says medical student Yvette Serrata Rosario. She is now one of many students evaluating their options.

‘The increase puts the Sugar Homes containers at the same price as the luxury Xior appartments, despite them being further out of town and harder to get to. Anyone who is living here can’t afford Xior, that’s why we are here. No one would choose to live this far away from university if they had another option’, says Kirsten Lenaghan, who studies journalism.


Lenaghan expressed her doubts about how it’s possible for her to be consuming 280 euros worth of electricity per month when she’s living in a container. In light of the current energy crisis, she says she would have accepted a slight price increase, but when she saw the email she felt like Sugar Homes was profiting from vulnerable international students. 

A group of angry students have already sought legal advice about their situation and for now they won’t be giving in to the demands of the Sugar Homes complex.

Problem for both of us

Niels van Dalen, who manages the Sugar Homes on behalf of owner STHO CV, says he understands the frustration of the students.

‘We didn’t do this to make a profit for ourselves. It’s a problem for both us and the students. The energy price increased drastically and it’s a situation that nobody is happy with’, says van Dalen.

He explained that they don’t control the energy price because this is the remit of the owners of the plot of land that the containers occupy.

Not greedy

Van Dalen says that they don’t want to be thought of as a greedy landlord and insists that the increase in the rent is only due to the increase in the energy prices. He says that the calculations were based on estimates of the consumption of the Sugar Homes containers.

Asked about why they took so long to inform students about the changes, van Dalen admits that maybe they should have been a bit faster to communicate with their tenants. He said the information about the price increase came in the Christmas holidays and they held talks with the site owners, the property managers, the RUG, and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences.

The reaction of Niels van Dalen was added after the publication of this article

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