Foreign students squeezed for money by university and housing corporation


Recently, we have heard from foreign students (studying at Leiden University in The Hague) that after two years of campus housing, they are required to vacate their rooms, even if their studies last for 3 years. They are then left responsible for finding alternative housing in The Hague. Tim de Boer states, “Due to the strict deadline without the possibility of extension, DUWO and Leiden University are leaving these students in great uncertainty in a housing market where landlords see foreign students as easy prey. They often face excessively high rents or poor-quality housing.” Further investigation revealed more unreasonable conditions such as having to pay a “reservation fee” of €285, being unable to terminate the contract prematurely, and other costs that are not allowed by law. Fatima Faïd adds, “Universities love foreign students because of the higher tuition fees they can charge for this group. Now, a social housing corporation seems to be profiting from this as well. It’s outrageous how these students are being exploited!”

Tim de Boer continues, “The standard lease contract undermines certain legal agreements, eliminating the so-called benefits of a temporary contract, such as early termination, while retaining the disadvantages of its temporariness. Additionally, there are clauses that are not in line with the law and are therefore void and invalid.” “It’s scandalous that a social housing provider drafts contracts that knowingly do not comply with legislation. Based on the Good Landlord Act, the municipality should take action against this.”

Dutch translation here:

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Written questions: Exploitation of Foreign Students

Date: March 27, 2024

To the Chair of the Municipal Council,

The Hague City Party has learned that Leiden University, in collaboration with the housing corporation DUWO, only offers foreign students enrolled in the three-year master’s program a temporary contract for a room for two years. Students cannot terminate the contract in between. Additionally, fees are being charged which, according to court rulings, are not permissible.

In accordance with art. 30 of the Rules of Procedure, councilor Fatima Faïd of The Hague City Party submits the following questions:

  1. Is the council aware that foreign students at the Hague Campus Leiden are only offered student accommodation through DUWO for two years? If not, why not?
  2. Can the council explain how this policy came about? Why is there no guarantee for the full duration of the 3-year study?
  3. Can the council indicate whether the municipality has been informed by Leiden University or the involved DUWO about this practice? If yes, since when? If not, what does the council think of this arrangement?
  4. Can the council clarify if this arrangement is supported by the council?
  5. Is it true that DUWO evicts several hundred vulnerable students annually? If yes, what actions are Leiden University and DUWO taking to prevent potential homelessness and stress among students?
  6. Can the council explain how foreign students are protected in the current housing market against eviction, overcrowding, poor conditions, and exploitation by landlords?
  7. Upon registration as a foreign student, foreign students are required to pay €285 as a Housing Reservation Fee. Can the council indicate if this also applies to Dutch students? If not, isn’t this discrimination?
  8. Does the council agree with The Hague City Party that there are unclear costs that, like rental costs, contract costs, and the like, should not be charged? If not, why not?
  9. If this “fee” provides access to the website, why do foreign students pay €285 for the same functionality that Dutch students pay €35 for?
  10. There are various court rulings where cleaning costs and reservation fees are deemed unlawful. Can the council indicate if the reservation fees (part of the initial payment) and the costs for final cleaning are in line with current legislation?
  11. Can the council indicate if the inability to terminate a temporary lease contract prematurely is in violation of legislation?
  12. Normally, the advantage of a temporary lease agreement is that the tenant can decide to leave prematurely. Apparently, this is not possible with DUWO, as tenants are bound by the two-year term and the requirement to be enrolled in an educational institution. Does the council find it desirable that there is a deviation from these laws in this very disadvantageous way for tenants?
  13. If all these regulations are used with the next students in mind, can the council clarify how DUWO will handle this from July 1st? After all, the possibility of offering temporary contracts will be removed from the law altogether.
  14. Is the council willing to engage in discussions with DUWO and Leiden University to ensure that the methods of renting, procedures, and contracts comply with the latest developments in tenancy law? If not, why not?
  15. What steps is the council taking, possibly in collaboration with DUWO and the universities, to provide sustainable housing for students in The Hague?

Fatima Faïd

Haagse Stadspartij