26 July 2017 – The Dutch Student Union (LSVb) and the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) have launched the Housing Hotline for international students today. Annually 112.000 international students study and live in the Netherlands. They usually face certain problems and insecurities upon renting a room in the Netherlands. “We have encountered the craziest stories when it comes to international student housing in the Netherlands. For example, a sudden rent increase or payment for the maintenance of a room that does not even exist. The Housing Hotline provides a place for international students to ask their questions and voice their complaints,” says Tariq Sewbaransingh, chair of the LSVb.
The biggest problem: the language barrier
The language barrier is the biggest problem facing international students in the Netherlands. Advertisements, contracts and information concerning their rights as tenants are usually only available in Dutch. International students do not know their rights and duties as a renter as well as they should. “Experience tells us that unclear expectations can lead to friction between students and landlords. They are in need of more reliable information concerning finding a room and how renting in the Netherlands works,” says chair of ESN the Netherlands, Renate Krabbendam.
The Housing Hotline can be found on www.lsvb.nl/housinghotline. Students can, for example, ask questions concerning finding a room, their rights or duties as a tenant, or how to deal with a conflict with their landlord. A team of volunteers and employees of the LSVb and ESN will answer by phone or mail on every request.
The Housing Hotline is a new initiative from the LSVb and ESN the Netherlands. The organisations aim to reach mostly the international students who start studying in September including those students who start their exchange program here. In the past several years there were news items concerning students who were forced to sleep in parks or their car.
Studying the problems with housing
There is little known as to the problems the international students in the Netherlands experience when it comes to housing. A study by ESN in collaboration with the European Committee suggests that one out of four students who study in the Netherlands via the Erasmus-Exchange Program face discrimination. Also, one out of five students face cases of fraud. The organisations will use the Housing Hotline data in anonymous form in order to map and study the problems they face. This rapport will be released somewhere next year.