The student rooms in the former WUR headquarters at Duivendaal are to undergo thorough renovation at the beginning of 2019, and the rent will go up a lot, the new owner, Xior Student Housing, has announced. Much to the dismay of Duivendaal residents.
'The whole kitchen is being taken out, including the bar we made ourselves. It will be all white, just like a hospital.’ © Sven Menschel
Student of Environmental Sciences Ivo de Graag (21) has a 14-square-metre room in Duivendaal, for which he pays landlord Socius 310 euros a month. Under the new landlord Xior, the rent will more than double, going up to 463 euros. ‘Add the deposit of 500 euros, and you’ve got to transfer nearly 100 euros to Xior in January. Not all students can cough that up just like that. I have already spoken to someone who can’t afford the first month and is therefore leaving.’
Project coordinator Hielke Jan van der Leij is overseeing the transition from Socius to Xior. He understands that not everybody is happy about it, but he defends the higher rents. ‘We calculate it using a points system for setting rents. At first the tenants were paying substantially less than normal in exchange for temporary contracts and no long-term rent control. Now they will get a proper rental contract, for which you pay the going rate. That seems like a lot all of a sudden.’
Xior could also have made the current residents leave, rather than offering them a new contract, says Van der Leij. ‘We could have ended the temporary contracts based on the Empty Premises Act, and then everyone would have been out by 1 March. That would have been easier for us, but we haven’t done that. Everyone can stay, but then they do have to pay a realistic price.’ Xior will be offering the tenants more comfortable accommodation, says Van der Leij. ‘After thorough renovations, the residents will have fully furnished built-in kitchens with washing machines, new flooring and so on.’
Like a hospital
But residents gathered in a common room with rainbow-coloured walls say they are not at all happy about that. ‘The whole kitchen is being taken out, including the bar we made ourselves. It will be all white, just like a hospital.’ This is all part of Xior’s ‘new concept’, which raises a lot of questions. ‘Will we be allowed to organize hospiteren?’ (a system for selecting new flatmates by having them over to dinner, ed.) The answer is no: Van der Leij says hospiteren is a thing of the past.
The residents do not get much time to think about the new terms. They have until 23 December to sign the new contract, sent to them on 16 December. If they don’t sign, they must vacate their rooms by 1 March.