Groningen members of the Dutch Lower House Henk Nijboer (PvdA), Arno Rutte (VVD) and Sandra Beckerman (SP) were shocked to hear about an incident in Groningen where the door of a tenant’s room was sealed shut.
According to Dagblad van het Noorden, a 21-year-old female tenant was trapped in the room she was renting on the Folkingestraat from Wim de Vries and rental agency Maxx in September 2017.
The tenant reports that she heard someone doing something outside her door one morning while she was still in bed with her boyfriend. In a video she made of the incident, over the sound of an electric screwdriver, she and her boyfriend can be heard calling out to the person at the door and getting no response.
When she tried to open the door, she noticed the points of multiple screws sticking through it – she and her boyfriend had been sealed shut inside the room. She contacted the landlord and sent him the video, but he did not reply. “If the building had caught fire, we wouldn’t have been able to escape. My boyfriend had to go to work that day, but we were locked in.” They eventually called the police who were able to free them from the room after removing 15-centimeter-long screws from the door.
According to the tenant, troubles began with her landlord when she failed to pay her rent for two months and the room was listed online as available to rent. Maxx told the Dagblad that they were not aware of the incident, and stated that the tenant was supposed to be staying in a different room in the same building. Landlord Wim de Vries, who rents out hundreds of rooms across Groningen – primarily to students – declined to comment on the matter. Last year, Groningen police reported receiving that 58 complaints from student tenants: 24 were formally filed, of which 15 were eventually dismissed.
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that Nijboer, Rutte and Beckerman are interested in finding out how common it is for tenants to be intimidated, threatened, assaulted or deprived of liberty by their landlords in the Netherlands. The politicians have submitted formal questions to the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice and Security about the tenant effectively being held hostage. The Groningen MPs are calling for the ministries to take action against such extreme incidents.