We, tenants living in DUWO, De Key and other Student Housing Associations, write this letter to express
our concern about the housing insecurity we are currently experiencing. As many
of us predominantly work on zero-hour contracts or have no formal contracts, we
live paycheck to paycheck each month. Overnight our income has disappeared
without much in the way of social protection. Youth factions of D66, CDA, PvdA, ChristenUnie and
GroenLinks have written to Minister Van Engelshoven outlining the hardship and
financial losses students are experiencing, proposing a variety of measures to
increase support for students. The response and solution offered by the
Minister has been to encourage further borrowing for those in trouble. This is not satisfactory, and
leaves students having to look for other avenues to address their financial
In light of these developments we initiated communication with
DUWO through official channels in which we outlined our current financial
precarity, requesting a dialogue on the matter of rent suspension for the
duration of the Covid-19 crisis. This conversation has not been fruitful. DUWO has responded by rejecting our request for rent relief,
encouraging tenants to further indebt themselves to pay rent. We have also requested a rent suspension for De Key residents. So far there has been no response, only the offer of individual payment plans which stall rather than solve the problem. This, in addition
to DUWO and De Key's lack of clarity regarding evictions, and decision to increase rents in
July, has left many of us in a vulnerable and stressful position in the time of
a public health crisis.
DUWO has outlined that they are in consultation with other student
housing providers, the LSVB (National Student Union), and central government.
We understand that DUWO wants the discussion to focus on income support, so
that rent can still be paid. Until it is made clear how this income will be
provided to the many of us who worked on zero-hour contracts, no contracts
(under the table), or lost their job in the weeks preceding the crisis we feel
that DUWO, as a social housing provider, has the responsibility to shoulder a
portion of the economic burden that student tenants are currently experiencing.
Though we encourage DUWO’s mission to continuously provide accessible housing,
it should look to the government’s refusal to invest in social housing, rather
than burden its tenants in their time of need.
Why do we have these
demands?1. We require the
collective protection of a rent suspension over individual measures
- Full rent suspension for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis
without obligation to pay back in the future.
- No rent increase for the duration of 2020.
- A law banning evictions.
- Binding measures to forbid collection costs.
The minister opposes general measures on the grounds that the
relief measures/temporary benefits being implemented to provide income support are
she fails to mention the large number of people excluded from the
aforementioned benefits. This includes students who have precarious contracts
or are employed informally without contract and therefore do not receive any
compensation for the loss of income caused by COVID-19 related measures. 2. We should not be asked to bury ourselves even deeper in
The Minister of Education’s message is loud and clear: just loan
more. It is
obvious that this offers no tenable solution. Firstly, it leaves out students
who due to study delay no longer have the right to loan money and non-EU
students who can’t access loans. Secondly, further aggravating the level of
indebtedness by no means resolves the actual problem, but only serves to
mortgage people’s future by binding them to repay the loan with added interest.
3. We are denied access to
stable housing and are left vulnerable to evictions during a pandemic
The emergency law passed on April 15th is insufficient in its
mission to guarantee stable housing: three month extensions can be rejected in
case of rent arrears or planned demolitions. We have also been denied
meaningful protection from eviction: a non-binding resolution that excludes
roughly 20% of Dutch tenants is a painfully weak measure. This measure is
perhaps most effectively debunked by the reality that evictions are still
happening: the people of Moerwijk Oost in the Hague, for example, are facing
At this point it must also be mentioned that the scope of both the
resolution and the emergency law is quite narrow: it leaves those living
precariously to fend for themselves. In times of a public health crisis those
without a rental contract, those seeking refuge and the estimated forty
thousand people who are left out on the streets need and deserve our full
4. We require binding measures to secure our right to
Despite the Minister’s moral appeal to landlords, business seems
to continue as usual: evictions are still taking place and some Housing
Associations are increasing the rent as if there were no Covid-19 crisis. Some
of us are already not able to pay the rent right now due to loss of income. How
are we to believe that DUWO won’t raise the rent and evict us? Moral appeals
and agreements fall short of guaranteeing our right to adequate, affordable and
5. We need government
action to ensure that landlords keep to their agreements
The aforementioned emergency measures also include that no
collection costs will be charged for rent arrears due to income loss. In spite
of these promises, DUWO continues to announce collection costs for those unable
to pay their rent on time. The tenants who are not aware of these agreements
are probably coughing up these collection costs. Due to the absence of binding
measures and enforcement, the government de
tenants to their own devices.
Posted: 29 April 2020 (Updated: 19 June 2020)