Science - May 6, 2004

Students angry at SSHW changes in rent tariff structure

The student accommodation office SSHW is going to change its rent structure so that all tenants pay 80 percent of the maximum rent for their rooms. For most tenants it will mean a rent rise, although for those now paying more than 80 percent the rent will go down.

The maximum rent is determined through a points system developed by the ministry of spatial planning, housing and the environment. The bigger the room and the more facilities there are, the higher the rent. According to Jan Harkema, vice director of SSHW, at present there are big differences in price-quality ratios between the different student accommodation complexes. “Independent accommodation is sometimes hardly any more expensive than shared accommodation,” says Harkema. This will change to reflect the actual differences.

The maximum rise allowed depends on the difference between the current rent and the maximum allowed, and is likely to be between three and five percent. New tenants will be charged the new rates from July, and sitting tenants’ rates will rise gradually. Higher energy costs will also lead to an average increase of 10 euros in monthly service costs to about 90 euros.

The Stichting Flat Overleg (SFO, tenants’ organisation), the WSO and the ISP are angry at the plans of SSHW and are considering protest action. Anke Lodder, SFO chair: “It is unacceptable that such a large proportion of the proposed investment costs are being passed on to the tenants.” The student organisations want Wageningen University to contribute to new construction and that new accommodation is built more cheaply. The interest groups are demanding that rents are not raised as long as the investment plan is not well founded, and alternative forms of investment have not been sought. Harkema’s response is that the 80 percent norm for rent rates is normal in the Netherlands: “In many towns the student accommodation is rented at the maximum rate for new rooms. At 80 percent we are under the red line, but if we went down to 75 percent we would run at a loss for a number of years.” If the new construction plans do not go ahead, SSHW is prepared to reduce the rent rises.

Guido van Hofwegen

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