The shortage of housing for students continues to be high every academic year, Rotterdam students even stop studying there as a result.
In a recent report, researchers from the National Student Union (LSVb) claim that Rotterdam and Delft are the worst cities in the Netherlands for student housing and the role that the municipalities play in this.
Union president Ama Boahene feels that municipalities must take the conclusion of the report seriously. “It is becoming increasingly difficult for students to live in Rotterdam.” The union evaluated how the student cities manage the private rentals for students, housing association rentals, information provision and the presence of a rental team.
Division of buildings
Particularly with respect to private rentals, Rotterdam scores worse than all the other cities. This low score is mainly because it is no longer possible to divide a building into several student rooms. That requires a permit, which can only be applied for after September 2022. Furthermore, the municipality does not allow a building to divided into separate rented rooms within 50 metres of a similarly divided building.
The spokesperson of councillor Bas Kurvers, responsible for housing policy in Rotterdam, says that the municipality had introduced the permit because dividing buildings into rented rooms reduces the number of homes for starters and young families. She explains: “If we don’t do anything, more houses will be divided into separate rented rooms.”
What the municipality calls viability also played a role in the decision to make it more difficult to divide building into separate rooms for rent. The municipality wants to reduce nuisance by students in Kralingen and to distribute them more over the city.
Union president Ama Boahene sees that argument as a sliding scale. “It will make it increasingly difficult for students to find anywhere to live at all.”
According to the report, Rotterdam also scores badly for the information it provides about renting and support for students if they have rent complaints. For example, the report says that on the ‘Huurwoning Rotterdam’ [Rented housing Rotterdam] webpage, there is no information for students. According to Boahene, this does not make it easier to find a room and know what you can expect as a tenant. She is critical: “Students don’t know what to do if they have problems with the landlord and want to start proceedings. They don’t know how to approach the rent commission, so find themselves in a vulnerable position.”
The councillor’s spokesperson argues against the alleged shortage of information about student housing. “Together with education institutions, the municipality expects to be able to provide students with sufficient information.” She points here to rotterdamstaatomjoutespringen.nl, an information site specially for Rotterdam students.
It looks as if the permit requirement will remain in the coming years, says the councillor’s spokesperson. “This policy has only just been introduced.” To address the shortage of student housing, the municipal spokesperson says that a Student Housing Agreement is being signed with education institutions and student housing associations. “We are currently making agreements about reducing the shortage of student housing, compensating increasingly expensive energy bills, the affordability and quality of student housing and wrongdoings on the housing market for students.”
According to the LSVb, the problem is much too acute to just sign an agreement in the future. Rotterdam must therefore reverse the ban on dividing properties. Boahene emphasises: “If you can divide more buildings into more living space, you will soon reduce that shortage.”
Volgens de LSVb is het probleem veel te acuut om alleen een akkoord in de toekomst te sluiten. Rotterdam moet daarom meteen beginnen om de stop op verkamering af te schaffen. Boahene benadrukt: “Als je meer panden kunt opdelen in meer woonruimte, dan kom je snel van dat tekort af.”