‘More and more students paying way too much rent’

| HOP, Evelien Flink

National student union LSVb has issued a warning about the extremely high rents students currently pay for their rooms. Especially in cities like Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht, access to accommodation requires deep pockets. The cheapest rooms are found in Enschede.

Think you might be paying too much for your cramped 6 m2 room, in a house with no central heating and a toilet you have to share with five other people? You’re probably right.

Students who suspect their rent might be a bit excessive can use the price checker on the LSVb website. After answering a number of questions about their room, the price checker shows them the maximum amount their landlord is allowed to charge. If their actual rent is higher, they can contact the rent assessment committee.

Skyrocketed

The LSVb compiles the information from all of these questionnaires and publishes an annual check-your-rent report. In 2019, 5,120 students used the check to find out what the maximum rent for their room should be.

A large number of them (79 percent) did in fact pay too much rent in 2019, according to the student union. On average, respondents’ rents were 107 euros above the legal limit, according to the points system used. In 2018, this was 91 euros, and ‘only’ 73 percent of respondents were paying too much rent.

The union also warns that students’ rents have risen extremely quickly. In 2018, price-checker results indicated an average basic rent for a student room with shared facilities of 385 euros a month. This amount skyrocketed in 2019, to 414 euros: a 7.5 percent increase.

Trend

However, the results are not completely reflective of reality, as students who have no issues with their rent will be less inclined to fill in the price-check questionnaire. But the check does show a trend. The questionnaire was most often completed by students from Groningen (13 percent), Utrecht (12 percent) and Amsterdam (8 percent).

As expected, respondents in the Dutch capital pay the highest rents: 557 euros per month, on average. Rent gobbles up a large part of respondents’ monthly budgets in Rotterdam (449 euros), Utrecht (431 euros) and Maastricht (421 euros) as well.

The LSVb’s report states that there is no city where students pay less than the points system stipulates. But Enschede is not far off: price-check respondents from this city pay an average of 306 euros for basic rent – overpaying by 1.22 euros per m2, less than anywhere else in the country.

Fines

‘Rack-rent landlords are using the housing market crisis to their advantage’, explained LSVb president Lyle Muns this weekend during the presentation of the report in consumer programme Kassa. ‘Young people are in a vulnerable position, and it’s disgraceful to ask them to pay more than what is allowed by law.’ The LSVb wants to see greedy landlords fined.