Last year, the House of Representatives approved a proposal by PvdA and ChristenUnie that indefinite rental contracts should once again become the norm. Or that tenants should have greater certainty, at least.

An amendment put forward by SP and D66 meant that the indefinite rental contracts would also apply to student rooms. Last week, however, they were startled to discover that the housing minister had included students in a list of exemptions. What does this mean

What is the current situation?

Many students are given a ‘campus contract’, allowing them to rent the accommodation as long as they are a registered student. After that, they have to move out. Private landlords may also offer campus contracts. The second option is a fixed-term contract of up to five years. A third type of contract, which is less common, is a two-year fixed-term contract for students who rent a single house together.


How would that change under the new law?

Students would only be given a campus contract (as long as they are registered students) or an indefinite rental contract. There would be a sole exemption for international students, by which they could be offered a fixed-term contract of up to two years.

And now?

This exemption for international students will now apply in principle to all students. Housing Minister Hugo de Jonge says that this is due to EU rules, which prevent him from making a distinction between Dutch and international students.

How does this affect me if I already have a rental contract?

For the moment, not at all. It only affects you when you start looking for new accommodation. The new law takes effect from 1 July.

I am looking for accommodation. Will I be offered a fixed-term contract just because I’m a student?

Possibly. Some additional clarification from the minister would be helpful. Is the exemption only intended to apply to renting temporary accommodation to trainees, interns and exchange students, for example? Or will it really apply to all students?

I’m a part-time student. Does this also apply to me?

That’s a good question. Is it possible that families will be made homeless after two years if the parents study part-time alongside working? As it stands, this could be a consequence of the regulation, as the Union of Tenants also warns. Justine van Lochem, a lawyer and associate professor of Tenancy Law at the University of Groningen, also believes that such a situation could arise. “Whether it will happen much I don’t know, but I suspect that the legislature did not contemplate this kind of situation. They simply based their thinking on the notion of the ‘standard student’.”

Why does the minister want these short-term contracts at all?

Where accommodation is temporarily vacant, say for a period of 12 months, indefinite rental contracts and campus contracts are not an option. The minister already warned the House of Representatives last year that this would require an exemption to be made.

But is it possible that the minister might secretly want to make fixed-term contracts the norm again?

He seeks to hold down rents while simultaneously having the power to impose fines if landlords fail to comply with the rules. Then it makes no sense for landlords to stack two-year contracts one after another and increase the rent with each new tenant, since the rent would remain the same.

Does this benefit students or not?

That’s hard to say at present. Will landlords be drawn en masse to two-year contracts or will they opt for campus contracts? The Union of Tenants is worried that students will be left in a precarious position. They reason that anyone with a fixed-term rental contract is less likely to consider standing up for their rights and complaining to the rent assessment committee about an excessively high rent or service charges.

Professor Van Lochem is also not convinced of any improvement. “Fixed-term rental contracts of up to five years will disappear, to be replaced by leases with a term of no more than two years. That seems to me, by a roundabout way, to be a regressive move for students.”


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