Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts

Students in the Netherlands sometimes live in converted shipping containers.

Companies which specialise in providing housing for students are breaking the law by forcing them to continue to pay for a room if they leave before the end of the contract, tenants’ association Woonbond has told Trouw.

Students who come to the Netherlands for a couple of months – some 31,000 this year – can get a room straight away but the contract obliges them to pay full wack if they leave before their time is up.

Woonbond, supported by student organisations, thinks the situation is unfair on the students and is preparing to take the landlords to court. The law stipulates that temporary contracts can be terminated early, the Woonbond claims, and says landlords are breaking the law.

Student housing umbrella group Kences says the short-stay contracts offered students are not ideal but that they have no other option.

It argues that housing providers have agreed with universities and colleges that foreign students have a room the moment they arrive. If a student leaves early, the room cannot be rented to someone else because it needs to be available for the next batch of foreign students, Kences says.

Rooms not homes

The organisation also says the contracts are legitimate because students rooms are not independent homes.

The Woonbond and the student organisations have urged Kences to come up with creative solutions to the problem. ‘International students are a vulnerable group in the housing market. They don’t know what is and isn’t allowed,’ a Woonbond spokesperson told the paper.

But according to Kences director Ardin Mourik, the situation for foreign students may well get worse if they are allowed to stop paying. ‘Providers will no longer be able to guarantee rooms for foreign students and then where will they live?’ the paper quotes Mourik as saying.

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