Caterina Canali (20, Life Sciences) went for an exchange semester in England last autumn. Before that, she cleared out her belongings from the room she rents through a housing agency ‘t Goeiehuys, and stored them in her storage room. Upon her return from England, all of Caterina’s belongings in that room were gone.


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Caterina Canali’s stuff was thrown out when she was away. Image credit: Tyna Le

Her storeroom was going through a paint job. She inquired a woman who recently moved into a neighbouring apartment, which she bought through a housing agency named Niya. This woman turned out to be the one repainting the storeroom (which now belonged to her) and claimed that everything in it was already gone when she purchased the apartment.

It turned out that Niya had cleared out the room. Caterina discovered that there had been a mix-up dating back five years: the former tenants of both apartments at the time exchanged, between each other, the storage rooms and its keys. The subsequent tenants and the agencies were unaware. Hence, Caterina was unknowingly using a storage room belonging to Niya and not ‘‘t Goeiehuys’.


“I had books, diaries, pictures, posters, vinyls, CDs, DVDs, home decor, jewellery and 400 euros of cash”, remembers Caterina. The sentimental value of the lost belongings is what bothers her most.

According to her, both ‘t Goeiehuys and Niya were unhelpful. “How did they not know there had been this mix-up?”, Caterina wonders. “In January 2022 I moved in, and was given a set of keys, including one to the storage room. How could I have known that was the wrong one?”.

Caterina tried free legal services but was told that procedures would not yield any results. Moreover, Caterina claims ‘t Goeiehuys refused to provide any compensation for the lost items, unless they were presented with physical evidence like item receipts. “That’s absurd – do you have receipts for everything you own? I don’t think so”, says Caterina. “I’ve been barely able to leave my room for two weeks. If I think about this too hard, I’ll break down.”

‘Tried everything’

Both ‘t Goeiehuys and Niya were contacted for comments. ‘t Goeiehuys disagree that it was unhelpful in the situation and they ‘tried everything to find her things’. The agency claims to have contacted neighbours and past tenants to try resolve the issue. The company confirm that ‘past tenants exchanged storage spaces among themselves without the landlord or Niya knowing about it’.

Niya stated that the storeroom and apartment linked to it was cleared out before being sold. They claim that there are two possibilities: unlawful use of their property or ’t Goeiehuys accidentally providing the unit to Caterina. Their movers concluded that ‘the stuff in the storage room were old belongings’ and hence tossed them away.

No heating

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Lian Oyerbides had no heat or hot water for two weeks. Image credit: Tyna Le

Before moving to Rotterdam last August, Lian Oyerbides (52, student of Maritime Transportation and Law) secured her room through the HousingAnywhere platform. But in October, she had no heating or hot water for two weeks, leaving her sick as a result. Proposed instructions from the landlord to restart the boiler were unsuccessful. A handyperson arrived and ‘banged on a couple of places and told me to wait for 10 minutes’, but that did not work either.

“I boiled water to bath myself, and bought three blankets”, she recalls. “I wore whatever I could to stay warm”. Lian also dealt with leaking heater pipes. “At least a third of the month was unliveable”, claimed Lian to her landlord, and requested a deduction from her current 750 euro rent. It was rejected. The landlord claimed to have spent ‘over 800 euros’ fixing the issues. Frustratingly, Lian still deals with pipe leakages. “He told me to wrap a towel around [the pipe] and put a cup underneath to catch the water so the floor isn’t ruined”, reveals Lian. “Why is it my responsibility to take care of this?”


Lian was a landlord herself when she lived in the United States. “This would be unthinkable as a landlord”, she reflects. “When a tenant tells me they have a problem, we tried fixing it within 48 hours.”

Lian claims she is not the only one facing housing-related issues. According to her, numerous of her track’s students left due to housing issues. “They study from their home country and come here for the exams. Some of them contacted the university, but they did not get any help”.

Lian’s landlord was contacted for comments but has not provided any response on the matter.


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Annelore felt intimidated by her landlord. Image credit: Tyna Le

Annelore (20, Psychology) lived with her boyfriend and two other roommates in an always-messy house, which Annelore blames her other two roommates for. While no one was home, the landlord arrived unannounced to fix a hot water issue in the kitchen and angrily called Annelore’s boyfriend, ‘yelling’ about the mess. According to Annelore, he was not allowed to enter the house as he must inform of his arrival beforehand. Annelore and her boyfriend arrived home with the landlord still present, explaining that the mess was not their responsibility. “He started yelling at me, saying that I should not make excuses”, says Annelore. “Just don’t go to work, don’t go to school and clean this shit up. “My boyfriend told him he cannot demand what we do in our personal lives”.

‘Parasites and pigs’

The situation escalated. “The landlord got mad and started getting up to my boyfriend’s face, getting chest to chest and said ‘You can’t tell me what to do. Try telling me what to do and you’ll see what happens. You’re gonna start a fight you won’t win.’” The landlord proceeded to insult them after they went to their bedroom, according to Annelore. “He pulled open our bedroom door and yelled at us again, calling us parasites and pigs.”

Annelore voice-recorded some of the altercation and got ‘distressed’. Deceiving the landlord into thinking Annelore was leaving the house to get cleaning supplies, together with her boyfriend she packed valuable belongings and rushed to the police station. She could not file a case against the landlord as, according to the police, the landlord did not make any direct threats. They decided to move out right away. “Since he let himself in the house and was that aggressive, we decided that the house wasn’t a safe place”, tells Annelore.

Annelore packed all her stuff and temporarily relocated to her parents’ home in Vlissingen. She has also filed complaints at a rental commission (‘huurcommissie’).

EM was unable to reach out to the landlord as Annelore didn’t want to share his contact information, out of fear for retaliation. The voice recording of the dispute was verified by EM.