One of the initiators is Daan Roovers, fifth year chemistry student in Utrecht and president of BoKS, the residents’ association of student accommodation provider SSH in Utrecht, Rotterdam, Groningen, Zwolle, Tilburg and Maastricht.
Why did you want to establish a national umbrella organisation for student tenants?
“There were two reasons. Firstly, student tenants’ association are like islands, all based in their own towns. We wanted to share knowledge, because this is quite specialist work. Secondly, we want to represent student interests better.”
But you also have the Woonbond, and the Dutch Student Union (LSVb).
“We work together with the Woonbond, which represents all tenants. And the LSVb is for everyone who studies. We are specifically for all students who rent accommodation, which is a slightly different interest. The LSVb also does good work, but we don’t work against each other.”
How can you achieve anything? Going on strike doesn’t help.
“Nee, huurders kunnen niet staken, dat klopt. We moeten onze draai nog vinden. We zijn ons aan het oriënteren, we maken kennis met organisaties en partijen, maar uiteindelijk willen we invloed op het beleid. We willen aan tafel zitten.”
And what is the goal?
“In some towns, you can be on a waiting list for three or more years. And in the coming years, we expect tens of thousands more students to be looking for accommodation. We want more affordable and sustainable accommodation for students, better legal protection and a flexible transition from student to starter.”
In a column for the Woonbond magazine (on behalf of BoKS, not LOS), Roovers appeals for a rent subsidy for students in accommodation, just like tenants in independent housing. The ‘credit system’ should also be abandoned, so that there is no difference for housing associations between revenue obtained from studios and rooms.
Is that also the position of LOS?
“As an association, we need to decide our approach in consultation. That’s something we’ve just started.”