Students looking for an affordable, fully-furnished place in Rotterdam are finding it increasingly difficult to score a good unit. There’s a shortage of accommodations that fit the bill – and even fewer located within a bikeable distance of the university. Rotterdam’s Student Hotel, which opened its doors in 2012, has capitalised on this lack of convenient housing for students by offering them digs in one of their 500 rooms.
Standard accommodation is a room with a double bed, a kitchen shared with up to twelve fellow students and access to a variety of facilities including the colorful common areas, chic study rooms and fitness facilities. The starting price? 700 euro. And since the Student Hotel officially operates as a hotel rather than as student housing, its guests lack rent protection. This means that if they are evicted, they have no further recourse – despite the fact that many of them register at the hotel’s address.
The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) believes that the denial of renters’ rights, in combination with the hefty room rates, is unacceptable. LSVb is currently considering proceedings against the Netherlands’ Student Hotels. With a trip to court in the cards, there’s a whiff of controversy surrounding Rotterdam’s Student Hotel. But how do the people living inside actually feel about this question? What do they make of the fact that if hotel management decided to throw them out, they wouldn’t actually enjoy any legal protection? At EM, we were curious to hear their thoughts. That’s why we paid a visit to one of Rotterdam’s most sought-after student accommodations, to find out what the Student Hotel’s long-term guests have to say about the matter.
Nikki Doijen, Switzerland/The Netherlands (Communication & Media Studies)
“I don’t think they should treat our rooms as regular hotel accommodation, since there are specific rooms here that are actually for hotel guests. We don’t get treated the same as the actual hotel guests, in the sense that we don’t get room service or cleaning service. I have to take care of my own ‘apartment’, so I don’t feel like a hotel guest. Even though l’m treated like a hotel guest as far as rights go. If people have a contract that says they’ll be living here for a year, then it should be counted as a conventional apartment contract and not as a hotel stay. It’s hard to get too mad about it though. It’s amazing to stay here. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed, I’m always surrounded by other people. You don’t even have to use your phone to message people, because you know someone’s always right around the corner.”
Kevin Pijper, The Netherlands (Masters in Financing & Investments)
“We’ve been told that this is a hotel. The rules are clear. If you break them, you suffer the consequences. Look, the people who work here are reasonable. I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen, and it hasn’t led to much trouble. They’re all quite relaxed as far as the residents are concerned. The only downside is that it’s quite expensive here. I had been looking for a room until November, so when one became available here, I jumped on it. At the end of the day, it’s only for this one year so it’s fine.”
Laia Bogaarts, Spain/The Netherlands (Liberal Arts & Sciences)
“What really concerns me is that since I’m considered a hotel guest, there’s not much that prevents them from entering my room. The reception can come in whenever they want if they think this is necessary. I don’t like that idea. And since I’m an EUC student, if something bad were to happen I won’t be able to stop it because I’m obliged to stay here for my first year. Fortunately I’ve never had any problems. The people here are nice and no one’s ever looking for trouble. I love staying here.”