Blog & Opinion
24 October 2018 • Anastasiya Dusanska
Why landlords are not gods but tenants are
It can be extremely frustrating trying to find student accommodation. With the joy of having found something suitable and the prospect of no more of the awful ‘viewing nights’ (when students are being judged to see if they are appropriate roommates or not), many students accept a place to live without checking how reliable the landlord is. Very understandable, especially if for the past two weeks you have been sleeping on your mate’s sofa, who happens to be addicted to Call of Duty.
I talk from experience, two years ago I found a place to live that met requirements I didn’t even have. The house had a dishwasher, a bath, a lovely living room but a landlord who wasn’t the easiest person to get along with. That latter wasn’t too much of a problem, however, as he was rarely at the house. All in all, I was happy there until the landlord decided to raise the rent by ninety euros a month.
Lately, there appear to be increasing numbers of people coming to The Hague and I am sure there are individuals willing to pay 550 euros for a room measuring 15 squared metres. I am however not one of them. And furthermore, it was a case of ‘get 1, pay for 3’. I’d lived in the house for years and all of a sudden I had to pay over a thousand euros a year extra for the same ‘product’. The rent increase was not due to a renovation, after all. When I indicated I didn’t agree with the rent increase my landlord informed me he wanted to terminate my contract with immediate effect because he needed my room for urgent personal reasons.
Tenants are gods
I am not angry with my landlord. In fact, I am grateful to him for his greedy action. It forced me to find out what my rights are as a tenant, and I was pleasantly surprised. The Netherlands is a great country for tenants! When you rent under the liberalised threshold, you have full tenancy and rental price protection. In my case, that meant that if I did not agree with the termination of the contract, my landlord would have to go to court to get the contract dissolved. And then he would have to prove that I had been a terrible tenant who never paid the rent on time or that I caused a lot of disturbance. Another option is that he would have to prove his private circumstances for which he needed my room were more important than my reasons to stay in the room. I don’t like speculating, but I suspect he wanted my room urgently so he could rent it to someone who was prepared to pay 550 euros for it.
This story is still ongoing unfortunately, as I am still negotiating with my landlord. And yet, there are a number of important conclusions that I hope every student will draw for themselves. Don’t blindly accept what your landlord says to you and find out about your rights. The Juridisch Loket (Legal Aid) is a great place for that. If you feel that the price you are paying for your room is not in proportion with what you are getting, you can contact the rent team. They will calculate the right price and could lower it. And most importantly, don’t consider landlords as gods, because as far Dutch law is concerned, in most cases the tenant is god.
Anastasiya graduated this year from The Hague University of Applied Sciences (European Studies). She has started a pre-master’s programme in Intercultural Communication at Utrecht University and writes about her experiences there. Anastasiya enjoys Zumba and Krav Maga in her free time.