International students treated unfairly in housing market

News - Thursday 24 May 2018

May 24th – International students in the Netherlands often have the most questions about finding a room and their rights as a tenant. This was found by an inventarisation of the Dutch Student Union (LSVb). This forces students to stay in hostels and makes them extra vulnerable to abuse by landlords. LSVb president Tariq Sewbaransigh: “International students are provided with insufficient information about finding a decent room in the Netherlands. We hope that universities and universities of applied science will improve the awareness.”

Information shortage
Out of the 94 reactions at the Housing Hotline 79 stated not to know where they would need to find a room in the Netherlands or how the Dutch tenant laws work. This is why international students often accept faulty information from their landlords as the truth. Landlords take advantage of this by asking money for keys, extra administrative costs, or higher rent than is allowed. Only a few universities and cities have facilities to help students with questions or complaints.

Intimidation, discrimination and accessibility
Beside the information shortage international students in the Netherlands have no safety net whatsoever. Unlike Dutch students they can’t just stay with their parents for a while. This makes them vulnerable for threats and intimidation by landslords. There is also the matter of accessibility of the market that forms a problem. Student rooms often are advertised with ‘no internationals allowed’. This decreases the market share for international stay enormously.

Room shortage
The underlying problem of it all is the room shortage in the Netherlands. Sewbaransigh: “For almost every student it is hard to find a room but for the international student it is way more difficult. We believe it to be irresponsible for universities and universities of applied science to actively attract international students to the Netherlands with this shortage of rooms.”

Housing hotline
In July 2017 the LSVb and European Student Network (ESN) have started the Housing Hotline. The goal of the hotline is to help international students with their questions and complaints concerning their stay in the Netherlands. The Housing Hotline rapport is an analysis of the reactions that have been filed at the hotline.