Diry dishes in student dorm . Foto: DUB/Maarten van den Haak

No national measures to combat rental scams

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Minister for the Environment and Housing Stientje van Veldhoven has dismissed a proposed national licence requirement for student landlords. She says it should be up to municipalities to decide how to deal with scams, and favours improved information for students.

Read in Dutch

According to a study (link in Dutch, ed.) conducted last year by university news site Delta into fake student landlords operating in Delft, there are some patterns in the tactics used. Often, the ‘landlords’ happen to be abroad at the time of contact, making it impossible for students to view the property. Using attractive pictures they then pressure students into paying several months’ rent or a large deposit in advance. In the end the rental turns out to be non-existent or already occupied.

Local
The Netherlands has no nationwide figures for the number of students conned by fake landlords. Since 1 July 2019, Delft University of Technology has received eleven reports about international students who may have been scammed. The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) asked the Housing minister to consider a national licence requirement that would enable online student housing platforms like Kamernet to bar unlicensed landlords.

The minister rejected this proposal. She prefers supporting local landlord licensing systems, allowing municipalities to choose an approach that works best for them. The city of Groningen for example last year made a landlord licence mandatory to let rooms to students.

Victims
The minister also stated however that she will personally launch an informational campaign later this year to warn students about rental scams. She is also calling on research universities and universities of applied sciences to improve the information they provide. It’s their job to make students aware of frauds and direct them to reliable providers. Delft University of Technology for instance has set up a special webpage on rental fraud.

Beyond this, digital rental platforms also have a responsibility to check that landlords are legitimate. ‘Sites like Kamernet warn tenants about online scams and take measures to prevent it’, writes (link in Dutch, ed.) the minister.

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