No national measures to combat rental scams

The minister has dismissed a national licence requirement for student landlords. This was proposed after Delta investigated housing scams.

Whether the municipality of Delft will tackle room rental malpractices will soon be known. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

According to a our study conducted last year 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.

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.

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 universities 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 the minister.

Stip also asks question
Whether the municipality of Delft will tackle room rental malpractices will soon be known. On 12 December last year, the student party Stip submitted written questions on this subject to the municipal college of mayor and aldermen. In a letter, the party asks whether the college is aware of the housing fraud, to what extent there is contact with TU Delft regarding this matter, and what measures the college is taking to tackle housing fraud. Stip chairman Matthijs Gouwerok informed Delta in an e-mail that the college usually responds within six weeks. 

HOP, Evelien Flink / Delta, Marjolein van der Veldt

HOP Hoger Onderwijs Persbureau

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