According to the municipal councillors of twelve Dutch student towns, the government must be tougher on landlords who own multiple properties. Many of them overcharge their tenants, and get away with it because no fines are imposed for that sort of thing.
In a letter addressed to the new Minister for Internal Affairs, Kajsa Ollongren, whose portfolio includes housing, Amsterdam councillor Laurens Ivens argues in favour of measures against overcharging landlords. He wrote the letter partially on behalf of his colleagues in Delft, Eindhoven, Enschede, Groningen, Maastricht, Nijmegen, Rotterdam, The Hague, Tilburg, Utrecht and Wageningen.
According to the letter, landlords who own multiple properties are guilty of systematic exploitation of their tenants. In order to end this practice, the councillors want landlords who charge exorbitant rent not only to be forced to reduce the rent, but fined.
If their rent is excessive, or if their accommodations are faulty, students are free to take the matter up with a rent tribunal. However, while such tribunals can force landlords to reduce the rent, they do not have the authority to impose fines.
LSVb (the national student union) supports the councillors’ plea and also argues in favour of sanctions. “If a landlord steals so much as ten euros from you, he will be fined. However, if he rips you off to the tune of hundreds of euros per year, nothing happens. This is absurd and must quickly be rectified,” states LSVb Chairman Tariq Sewbaransingh.
According to estimations drawn up by LSVb, students are generally overcharged by nearly one hundred euros per month. In Amsterdam, the figure is believed to be €160 per month. Last year, VVD and PvdA already advocated a tougher approach to overcharging landlords.