Law student Dimitri van Tienhoven (27) has started his own company to ensure that students pay a fair price for their accommodation. The master student and former member of the Youth Organisation Freedom and Democracy (JOVD) started his Rent to Save company because he wanted to help students. “Many students pay too much without realising where the problem lies”, Dimitri explains.
According to Dimitri, the problem is that landlords often fiddle the points system. This means that students are often overcharged. As an example, he mentions a student who was paying 695 euros including service costs to rent a studio, although the basic rent was only 300 euros. The student was therefore paying 195 euros for the service costs. Additional costs were also included for things that were included in the basic rent, such as the intercom.
Rather a court case
Dimitri got his first official case just after the summer. He has now completed five cases and has three cases which are ongoing. He has had to go to court only once; the other times a different solution was found. However, Dimitri prefers a court case. “The court gives a binding advice which the landlord can’t get out of. That’s not the case if the tenants’ association gives advice”, he says. Dimitri works on a no cure, no pay basis. The first telephone call is always free, after which Dimitri comes to view the property and then draws up a quote.
Students don’t need to worry that they’ll be evicted from their room, because a landlord can’t do that without good reason. The landlord can only evict the student if he/she hasn’t paid the rent or causes repeated problems. So far, Dimitri hasn’t experienced a landlord who hasn’t kept to the agreement.
According to Dimitri, landlords don’t usually have bad intentions. Sometimes houses were bought at an expensive time and the costs are very high. Landlords don’t often get rich from these houses. In such cases, Dimitri prefers to reach an agreement with the landlord so that the student can be repaid in instalments.
Personal recommendations are very important for the growth of Rent to Save. “If you hear from a friend or a fellow student that I’ve been able to help, it’s less difficult to approach me”, says Dimitri. He is currently also working on his website and there’s already a Facebook page. Dimitri can’t say what the future will bring. Eventually, wants to help students nationally, but for now the Rotterdam region is his priority. Dimitri prefers to grow one step at a time, so that he can manage everything himself.