MPs Sandra Beckerman and Frank Futselaar of the Socialist Party (SP) have submitted questions to the Ministers for Housing (Stientje van Veldhoven, D66) and Education (Ingrid van Engelshoven, D66) about scammers working the student housing market. Among other things, the MPs wish to know how many students have been defrauded and how many of these victims come from abroad. According to the SP, international students are easy prey, since they do not speak Dutch and are unfamiliar with the local housing market.
Scam in Delft
In addition, the MPs wonder whether there are any checks on digital platforms like Kamernet, Roomster and Facebook to prevent individuals from falsely presenting themselves as landlords. They want to know which measures the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) are taking to discourage and take action against mala fide and fake landlords. In addition, Beckerman and Futselaar want the Minister to call on all universities to warn students against these practices.
These parliamentary questions were submitted in response to recent reports in Delta, Delft University of Technology’s independent platform for journalism. Delta’s reporters got in touch with a number of Facebook users who had been accused of fraud in a group for international students. This allowed them to reveal how scammers in the Delft housing market manage to get students to pay for non-existent rooms. In later coverage, the university medium described how someone posing as a landlord had even organised a viewing and handed out keys to unsuspecting students.
Scammers in Rotterdam
We also find a large number of fraudsters in Rotterdam’s student housing market, according to an undercover investigation performed last year by Erasmus Magazine. Dozens of advertisers attempted to cheat students – many of them from abroad – out of their money by offering non-existent rooms for rent. At the time, the Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and Erasmus Student Network already expressed their concern about these fraudulent practices.