Hundreds of international students contact housing hotline

Three years ago, UU rented homes in a bungalow park to help international students who couldn't find a place to live. Photo: DUB

There is a severe shortage of housing in the Netherlands, and international students have been particularly affected. The hotline received 658 requests for help in the last year and a half, the union says in a brief report.

The most common complaint is not being able to find accommodation. Sometimes students seem to have no prospects at all on the housing market. Their replied to online ads go unanswered, or the ad explicitly states "no internationals".

Unscrupulous landlords are abusing the situation, according to union chair Ama Boahene. They ask for too much rent and sometimes refuse to carry out repairs. They even issue threats of eviction if their tenants blow the whistle.

The worst-case scenario is when students looking for accommodation are scammed, sometimes paying to view a room that does not even exist.

The union has conducted four in-depth interviews with students about their experiences. They are all astonished that their educational institution cannot help them and does not provide rooms for international students.

The numbers announced by LSVb relate to the eighteen months up to 25 August 2021, which includes the start of only one academic year. Many new complaints were received in September, but they will be included in next year’s report.

The hotline is not a phone number. Instead, students fill in a Google form and the LSVb staff gives them advice.