International students shell out more money to rent a room than their classmates with a Dutch passport. They are frequently asked to pay mediation fees or reservations fees in order to get a room and pay more in rent than Dutch tenants.
By Hans de Preter / Translation by Traci White
SSH (Stichting Studenten Huisvesting) works with the University of Groningen and the Hanze University of Applied Sciences to provide roughly 2,000 rooms for international students. Dagblad van het Noorden reports that the 150 euro “reservation fee” that SSH charges its tenants may be against the rules.
University of Amsterdam professor Marco Loos, the Groninger Studenten Bond (Groningen Student Union) and Groningen-based rental law consultancy firm Frently all agree that the reservation fee which SSH charges due to their role as “mediators” is in violation of current rental legislation.
According to Loos, SSH does not help the students find a room because all of their vacancies are listed on their website. Students can directly request to rent a room, which is an unmediated transaction.
Distinguishing “mediation fees” from “reservation fees” may seem esoteric, but according to a ruling by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands, a realtor can only charge such fees if he or she is explicitly asked by a tenant to find them a room which is not already included in their public listings.
The University of Groningen’s position is the SSH is not a “mediator” but rather a lessor. According to the university, that distinction means that SSH can charge such fees. SSH says that the reservation fees are legitimate because they “directly pertain to the costs that the company incurs in renting out rooms.”
Reservation and mediation fees aside, international students also pay higher rent for an SSH room (26.28 euros per square meter) than students renting from the private housing market (12.82 per square meter).