What’s a ‘huisjesmelker’ in English?

Delft-blue figurines KLM gives its business class passengers. Photo: Flickr/Roel Wijnants

Parliament spoke with Minister of Internal Affairs Kajsa Ollongren last month, discussing student housing and the fate of foreign students. In several cities, there’s an enormous housing shortage, and foreign students are easy prey for slum lords (the English translation for huisjesmelker, by the way).

One issue is that foreign students don’t know their way around here, and don’t know how high their rents are allowed to be. Can’t we translate the the housing authority’s website to English, asked D66 congresswoman Jessica Eijs, of her fellow party member Ollongren.

Ollongren appeared reluctant. You can’t translate everything, she said. It doesn’t happen in court cases either. Perhaps students should just use interpreters.

PvdA congressman Henk Nijboer thought it was all very strange. He himself had trouble finding the right information on the housing authority’s website – imagine being a Chinese student. “So you have to ask an interpreter to say: my rent is eighty euros too high. That can’t be a serious proposition, can it? How much trouble can it be to translate the website to English?”

Despite the minister’s objections, D66, GroenLinks, PvdA, VVD, and ChristenUnie brought a motion to ‘make the essential parts of the housing authority website available in English’.

Ollongren no longer objected, because these parties have a majority share together. She called the motion ‘helpful in ensuring foreign students can sufficiently be informed of the options that are available to them.’