Finding housing in Amsterdam: An impossible task for AUC students?

By Rosalie Dielesen

The municipality of Amsterdam has decided to give the youth in Amsterdam priority when allocating social rental properties in 2020. This concerns around 750 of the approximately 4000 homes that become available for regular rental each year. While this law is good news for students in general, the implementation of it comes a little too late for the students about to graduate from AUC, who have to leave their dorm rooms on July 15.

Every AUC student receives a room on campus when they start their bachelor degree. They are guaranteed a house for the next three years, and pay a fairly low rent (around 360 euros, often with rent benefit) as opposed to other students in Amsterdam that pay around 600 euros for smaller or similar rooms

Take Inge Volleberg, AUC alumna, who moved from a 26 square metre single room at the dorms to an 8 square metre room. She found her place through a real estate agent. After responding to countless Facebook posts, sending a lot of emails and going to ‘hospiteeravonden’, she  still had not found a place in Amsterdam. Finally Volleberg hired a realtor. He said she did not have to pay upfront, and could do as many home visits as she wanted, as long as she paid him an amount equal to an entire month’s rent once she had found a room. He found her a room in a four room apartment only two weeks after that. She currently pays 550 euros excluding water, gas and light. “We have had the luxury of staying in a one-person studio for not that much money and now all of a sudden you have to be okay with paying much more for shared housing,” said Volleberg.

Laura van der Wal, a third-year Social Science major, took a different approach. Her parents bought an apartment, as an investment, and she will rent it from them together with a friend. Her parents weighed the costs and benefits of buying a house in Amsterdam against paying a really high monthly rent for their daughter. “I am renting directly from my parents and they are not making any monthly profit,” said Van der Wal.

Lieselotte Oudega, a third-year Social Science major, has still not found a place in Amsterdam. She started looking in March, thinking she was out in good time. She has lived in Amsterdam her whole life and reassured herself that would surely help in finding a place. Her expectations, as well as her criteria for location and price, were very high. “Either people don’t read your message among the hundreds of emails they receive or they decide on the basis of a 100 words [or after you visit]  that you do not meet their requirements, or you do become selected but you decide that 800 [euros] a month for a room in a flat that is not within the Ring goes a bit too far,” said Oudega. For now it looks like she will have to move back with her parents in de Pijp. “Then I lose part of the freedom that is so wonderful [to have] as a student,” she says. “But I have no choice.”

One of the main reasons why rental prices in Amsterdam are so high is the ‘huisjesmelkers’ (slumlords), who drive up the prices of their properties to maximise profit. Volleberg claims that she lives in such a housing situation. According to her,  “[There are] too few houses for too many people, and the price is going up as long as there are people who are willing to pay. So they are driving the prices up, and of course I am affected because I am paying more.”

Van der Wal agrees, saying she  believes that due to ‘huisjesmelkers’ renting rates are higher, which results in those prices becoming the new norm.

In order to combat the issues of slumlords, high prices and general scarcity on the housing market, the government has decided that another 10.500 homes need to be built. This includes temporary and permanent apartments and rooms, as well as apartments with independent and shared facilities. Considering that the municipality is the landowner, a maximum rental price will be set at 424 euros per month for 18 to 23 year-olds and 607 euros per month for 23 to 28 year-olds.

Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.

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