Students aren’t “Short Stay”
The website athomeingroningen.nl is a platform where student rooms are offered to international students. On this website, SSH offers their rooms. These rooms are priced very high and this doesn’t seem to follow the rules of the Dutch renting system. How is it that prices this high can be asked for regular student rooms?
When you have a closer look at the descriptions of these rooms, you’ll notice the term: short stay contract. This kind of contract does not offer rental protection with the usage of a point-system, nor unjustified cancellation of the contract. In short: offering international students a short stay without the legal protection that most students have for their rooms. These short stay contracts are only possible for situations where it is evident that there can be no option for rental protection. Examples could be hotel stays, holiday homes etc.
Student rooms are of course not short stay. Students should have protection against high prices, because their income is limited. The reasons these kind of contracts are offered is because the SSH started to use hem. The SSH offers rooms for the maximum of one year to make sure they can fill the rooms with new students every year.
This is mainly the reason the contracts in this situation were accepted: when the predecessor of SSH, the ‘Huismeesters’, were sued because a student didn’t agree with the short stay contracts, the court of Arnhem-Leeuwarden decided that this was allowed for two reasons: the ‘All-in’ nature of the accommodations looked like a guest house and more importantly: through the means of short stay contracts the landlord could guarantee that a room was provided for new students. A lease for indefinite time could not provide this.
When the new law regarding the rental market entered the debate in 2015, this verdict seems to be outdated. This law allows temporary rental contracts available for up to five years. The term of ten months that the SSH has in mind fits in perfectly. The only thing the SSH would need to do is to send a letter to the student that rents the room regarding the ending of the contract, one to three months before the ending of the rental contract . No hard task to perform.
This fixed term rental contract is introduced to end the usage of short stay contracts in situations where this wasn’t desirable. In response to questions asked in the House of Representatives, the Minister of Domestic Affairs said that short stay contracts as a matter of fact were used in situations where there was strong urge of landlords for temporary contracts. Because of the indefinite nature of normal rental contracts this was not possible, and the new law regarding the rental market in 2015 provides a solutions for this problem.
The former does mean the argument the SSH uses for their use of the short stay contracts doesn’t make sense. This problem was solved by the new law of 2015. Also the other argument, the all-in character of the student room, is not enough to make the room short stay. This could also be included in the price of rent via the service costs. Besides that, the flexibility of an international who moves to another room is limited because of the short stay contracts, because these contract demands you to stay in the room for ten months. This makes moving to a room on the private market a lot harder. When using a contract for a set time the flexibility of students increases and the students are gradually finding new rooms, instead of al at once, after ten months. The only reasons SSH, and other landlords, are still offering these contracts two years after the new law, is because in this way they can ask higher prices from the already exploited international students. The UG acknowledges this problem and has put us in touch with SSH. However, it seems that SSH does not want to listen to us, and will probably only listen when the court gives it a wake-up call.