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Rent relief for student tenants in the Netherlands

Rent relief for student tenants in the Netherlands

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This petition has been created by Rent S. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Rent S.
started this petition to
Dutch Government, Duwo, De Key and other Student Housing Associations
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 issues.  

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.  

We Demand   ·    
  • 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.  

Why do we have these demands?

1. We require the collective protection of a rent suspension over individual measures The minister opposes general measures on the grounds that the relief measures/temporary benefits being implemented to provide income support are sufficient. However, 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 illegitimate debt 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 homelessness. 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 support.    

4. We require binding measures to secure our right to housing
 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 secure housing.

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 facto leaves tenants to their own devices.    

Posted (Updated )