Like other tenants, students renting rooms were supposed to be entitled to a permanent rental contract. Last year, the House of Representatives passed an amendment to the law on rental housing to include rental accommodation with shared facilities: often the type of accommodation that students live in.

National student organisation LSVb was positive about this development, as was the Union of Tenants. However, the House instructed the minister to sort out a number of exceptions before 1 July. One of these concerned the situation of international students. The idea was that they should be able to sign a temporary rental contract with a landlord.


A few weeks ago, it emerged that the minister has broadened the exception for international students to take in all students, including Dutch nationals. European legislation prevents the minister from making a distinction between international students and Dutch students. After all, the EU adheres to the principle of ‘free movement of persons’.

In response to questions from HOP, the minister has come up with a new line of reasoning: an exception for international students would work to the disadvantage of Dutch students.

After all, what is likely to happen when temporary housing becomes available? Who will get to live there? If temporary contracts can only be issued to international students, De Jonge argues, then landlords will choose an international student over their Dutch counterpart.


In some cases, landlords have been known to use temporary contracts to raise rent in the interim. De Jonge aims to break that pattern of abuse by introducing another bill: the Affordable Rent Act. He is convinced this will “offer students better protection from high rents”. The bill will put an end to interim increases by imposing a maximum rent.

According to the minister, this means there will soon be no benefit to landlords in offering temporary contracts. A temporary contract will only serve to rent out a room that is available temporarily.

De Jonge cites the example of a room that is vacant because the occupant is studying abroad for a short time. For as long as the room is available, another student can move in and use the space. “I don’t expect temporary contracts to be widely used for renting out rooms in general.”


The Union of Tenants (Woonbond) dismisses the minister’s arguments as nonsense. Subletting a room has long been possible, says Marcel Trip of the Union, and De Jonge’s upcoming bill is not going to stop interim rent increases either. But he is more concerned by the risk that landlords can simply threaten not to renew the temporary lease. This would make tenants less willing to go to the rent assessment committee if faced with excessive service charges or overdue maintenance. “That is exactly what landlords who bend the rules will do”, Trip says. “They are being handed a huge gift, while students are only being given rights on paper.”

In the House of Representatives, SP and D66 in particular were caught unawares by the minister’s course of action. Yet the shift in his approach did not come out of the blue. When the bill was debated in the House, De Jonge expressed concerns about the temporary renting vacant houses to students: would that still be possible in the near future?

CDA knew the score

In the Senate, the CDA came to the minister’s rescue. The party only helped the bill gain a majority when the minister shelved the distinction between domestic and international students shortly before senators were due to vote. He hinted that all students could be put in the same category.

Four days later, the CDA reaped the rewards. While nothing was officially settled, the party said it had backed the bill due to an exception for “specific groups, such as students”, as CDA Senator Theo Rietkerk stated when explaining his vote. And sure enough, that exception was introduced three months later.

SP and D66 are disappointed by this turn of events, fearing that students will continue to “hop from temporary contract to temporary contract”. Yet, a lack of support in the House means they see no way to block the minister’s initiative. Too few other parties have backed their requests for a debate and their earlier request for an urgency procedure.

This was also true of GroenLinks-PvdA, which together with the ChristenUnie tabled the private member’s bill on permanent rental contracts and also voted in favour of including student rooms in the law. In a brief response, PvdA member Habtamu de Hoop says, “PvdA, together with ChristenUnie, has ensured that permanent tenancies become the norm. We believe tenants should be protected as effectively as possible, and that includes students.”

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