https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wcvw5QssRX4&ab_channel=ErasmusMagazine

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According to Schuitemaker, many students are not aware of their rights, which causes them to pay unnecessary costs. “Sometimes they don’t know where to turn”, she says. “Many students don’t know about the Rent Commission (huurcommissie), rent teams like Huurteam Rotterdam or the disputes committee of their housing association. Something can be done for you there, so it’s important to know what your options are.”

Moreover, the rights of tenants have deteriorated considerably as a result of temporary rental contracts, she explains: “Especially private landlords often use these so that they are not stuck with tenants for a long time and they can raise the rent again after a year.”

Defects

When it comes to defects in the house, Schuitemaker often sees that landlords do not take their responsibility. “It often starts with the delivery. An accommodation is not delivered properly and the tenant has to do the work himself. You also often hear that landlords are not willing to repair maintenance complaints, put the responsibility on the tenant or simply do not respond. A procedure with the rent commission takes too long, and enforcing maintenance through the courts costs a lot of money and is a very big step.”

Schuitemaker goes through various scenarios about problems with rental properties to indicate what students are or are not entitled to.

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Window is broken for a year

One of the students says in the broadcast that he has a broken window that cannot be opened. It hasn’t been fixed for over a year. “The responsibility in this case clearly lies with the landlord”, says Schuitemaker. “He must ensure that the house can be properly ventilated, and therefore the window must be able to open. He therefore bears the costs. He must be given time to repair it, but it cannot take a year. If the landlord has not remedied the defect after six weeks, you can apply to the huurcommissie for a rent reduction. The local huurteam can help you with this. Often starting the procedure is already an incentive for the landlord to react and repair.”

Broken floor and cracks in the ceiling

And what advice does she have for students with a broken floor or cracked ceiling? “If you have signed for a furnished flat, the floor covering is part of it. If the floor covering is not part of the rented property, then you have to arrange for it yourself.”

The floor itself is a different story: if it is broken, the landlord has to repair it. The ceiling is always the landlord’s responsibility. “If there’s something wrong with it, he has to fix it and pay for it.”

When the landlord doesn’t cooperate

Sometimes the landlord doesn’t cooperate. For example, he does not respond for months or refuses to make repairs. There are, besides going to the huurcommissie, several options to get repairs done. “If the property belongs to a corporation, such as Stadswonen or SSH, you can go to the disputes committee. Sometimes it also makes sense to contact the municipality. They have the task of monitoring the quality of housing. For example, unsafe situations, such as a balcony of poor construction or a dangerous elevator. The last step is to go to court. But that can cost a lot of money. So that’s something you want to avoid.”

And suppose it’s winter, the heating is broken, and you haven’t heard from the landlord for weeks: “Then you can also call in a mechanic yourself”, says Schuitemaker. “The law makes that possible. Ideally, you should ask for quotations from several companies. You have to make sure that you don’t pay too high a price, because then you can get into trouble with the landlord. Moreover, you have to report all steps to your landlord and give him time to react. So there are risks, because there is a chance that the landlord will not pay the bill and will consider you to be in arrears if you offset the bill against the rent.”