How do I survive my landlord?

15 Dec 2021 ,

As a student you’re often happy to have a room at all, so you may well forget that as a tenant you also have quite a few rights. Vox submitted eight dubious situations to Irene van Setten, Director of Huurteams Nijmegen, with the question: Is this allowed?

#1. A landlord who does not accept law students because they supposedly look too closely at the small print on the rental contract. It happens. Can you be turned down because of your choice of study?

‘Of course not; it’s pure discrimination. But a landlord doesn’t have to give a reason for turning someone down, and most of them don’t. That makes it difficult to prove that discrimination is involved. But a landlord saying that they don’t want law students to visit a room, that’s clearly not allowed.’

#2. There he is, suddenly, standing in the middle of your room. Your landlord wants to check that you haven’t hung any strange things on the wall. In the meantime, you’re desperately searching for a pair of trousers to put on. 

‘This is known as unlawful entry. A landlord is not allowed to simply walk into your room, which is your private domain. If you’ve repeatedly asked your landlord to leave and he refuses, you can even call the police. Communal areas are a different story. Not that landlords are allowed to simply walk into these areas, but legally, there isn’t much you can do about it.’

#3. The corridor in your house was recently repainted, which was long overdue. Now the landlord is trying to get you to pay for those nice white walls.

‘In principle, that’s not allowed, but it depends on what you agreed concerning service costs. As a rule, tenants are responsible for the maintenance of communal areas. But a landlord would probably prefer to hire a professional decorating company than hand six students a paint brush. So if your landlord renovates the kitchen, he or she is allowed to claim back these expenses by raising the rent. However, this kind of rental increase is only possible with your permission.’

Illustration: Roel Venderbosch

#4. Having dreamt of that bigger room with a balcony for years, your turn has finally come to relocate within the house. You’re a bit shocked when you find out how much rent you’ll have to pay, though: apparently, the landlord raised the rent just as you were planning to move.

‘If a room gets a new tenant, the landlord is allowed to raise the rent. This also applies to relocations within a house. Clearly, landlords are not allowed to exceed the maximum rental price, which is based on the point system of the Huurcommissie (Rent Assessment Committee). If you think you’re paying too much for your room, you can run a rental check on their website. You’ll know immediately where you stand.’

#5. In the corridor you unexpectedly run into a new housemate. He says he’s a friend of the landlord, but none of you were told that a new tenant was coming. Can the landlord rent out a room without informing you first?

‘A landlord is allowed to rent a room to whoever he wants. After all, no one can force a landlord to only rent out to students. The only exception is the right of cooptation – an agreement in the rental contract that states than you’re entitled to put forward a new tenant when you leave. It’s customary for the resident tenants to look for a new tenant by organising a moment where prospective tenants can introduce themselves.’

#6. Before you can sign your new rental contract, you’re asked to pay € 40 for the drafting of the contract. What?!? € 40 to print out a couple of A4s? That’s money easily earned.

‘It is indeed money easily earned, and it’s unlawful too. This is equally true if the fee is referred to as startup costs, administration costs, or any other name. When you buy something in a shop, you don’t pay for the receipt, do you? If a company really incurs expenses for drafting a contract, these expenses are for the company. Financially speaking, the best thing you can do is sign and later, if you have an open-ended contract, simply deduct these costs from the rent. But this is, of course, not the best way to build a good relationship with your new landlord.’

Illustration: Roel Venderbosch

#7. You and your friend have found an amazing apartment, but you have to move in as early as next month. This means you’ll have to pay double rent, since your current rental contract includes a two-month notice period.

‘The notice period of a rental contract is always equal to the rental term. A two-month notice period is therefore only possible if you pay your rent every two months, something that never happens. You can safely assume that if you pay your rent on a monthly basis, you only have a one-month notice. In such cases, the law takes precedence over the rental contract.’

#8. At long last you’ve graduated. You get a WhatsApp message from your landlord: ‘Congratulations on your diploma! Oh, and by the way, I expect you to have cleared your room within two weeks.’

‘This is only allowed if you signed a campus contract, and even then, it’s not self-evident. Student housing association SSH&, for example, uses campus contracts. A landlord can ask you once a year to prove that you’re still a student, and you have three months to provide evidence of this. So it’s not the case that one day after picking up your diploma, you’ll end up on the street, but graduation is definitely a good time to start looking for a new place.’

Leave a comment

Vox Magazine

Independent magazine of Radboud University

read the latest Vox online!

Vox Update

A direct, daily or weekly update with our articles in your mailbox!