A side effect of the government's measures

Dutch Student Union: student housing is disappearing

LSVb is afraid that private landlords will start selling their properties more and more. Photo: DUB

The Dutch government has devised a set of measures to curb excesses in the housing market. For instance, more homes are going to be subject to a rent cap in the future, as a means to avoid abusive prices. In addition, house owners will pay more wealth tax on their properties.

Landlords and real estate agents warn that these measures are going to make renting out a property less attractive for them (both articles in Dutch, Ed.). Some say that there are home owners already in the process of selling their properties, which could have a negative impact on students.

“I hear alarm bells ringing,” says LSVb chair Joram van Velzen. “We are totally in favour of housing market regulation and a fairer tax system but not at the expense of the number of rooms for rent.”

The waiting lists for social student housing can extend to a couple of years, so most students rent directly from a private landlord. It takes them an average of five months to find accommodation.

LSVb is afraid that the wait is going to become even longer. The union is now asking the government to establish a rent allowance for those renting rooms, in combination with higher rents. They believe this would ensure that landlords do not get rid of properties now rented to students.

So you're in favour of a rent allowance, but the rent itself would also be higher. How does that benefit the students?
“Maybe it’s a controversial idea but we believe that would benefit students in the long run. They would have their accommodation secured without being worse off financially.”

Why do you think such a scenario would save more student rooms?
“The government will make sure that more properties can only be rented for a certain amount of money. In general, students are paying way too much rent right now, so prices have to be significantly reduced. But, if we do that, it will no longer be profitable for landlords to let those rooms. In fact, that is already happening, so more and more student houses are actually disappearing. That’s why we are in favour of giving people renting singular rooms a rent allowance, so that the rent can then be increased slightly and the accommodation will remain available.”

Aren’t you dancing to the landlord's’ tune?
“No, this is a real problem. This even came up in our conversations with the ministry. We need more student rooms as that’s more efficient than building standalone studios. But you must at least have the option to build such housing. Standalone studios are profitable, student rooms are not. That’s because you can both ask more rent for those properties and the students get a rent allowance.”

Is raising the rent the only way of making sure those rooms still exist?
“Maybe social housing corporations could provide private student houses. We could consider this type of arrangement too. In any case, we need to do something.”