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Massive rent hike for UCPH Housing Foundation rooms

Rent Increase — The University of Copenhagen Housing Foundation, which helps international students and researchers find a home, is increasing its rent by up to 42 per cent on some leases

Many of the international students and researchers that the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) is trying to attract, can look forward to significantly higher rent expenses in 2017.

The reason is that the University of Copenhagen Housing Foundation, which describes itself as an independent and non-commercial fund, is increasing its rents by up to 42 per cent on some leases.

Australian student Adam Shrimpton, who rents a Housing Foundation apartment in the Rebslagervej dorm in the Northwest of Copenhagen with his wife, has become aware of this.

Rates freely available

According to Adam Shrimpton you can, with a little IT ingenuity, find all the rents and other costs for the foundation’s approximately 1,250 rooms on the housing foundation’s website back to 2013.

He has shown the University Post’s employees how he has found the information just by changing the URL address for each lease. Shrimpton has put the information into a spreadsheet, which he has published on the internet.

[All rental rates available here]

Half of rooms will be more expensive

Adam Shrimpton has calculated that the rooms at Rebslagervej increase by an average of 17 per cent in price from 2016 to 2017 (including utilities expenditure and fees).

The rooms in the University Guest House increase by an average of 42 per cent, the Østerbrokollegiet dorm by 35 per cent and the Nordre Fasanvej Kollegiet dorm by 13 per cent.

16 per cent of all the Housing Foundation’s rooms increase by 25 per cent or more in price in 2017, according to his numbers.

56 per cent of the Foundation’s rooms will become more expensive, but the rent also drops some places.

“It sounds crazy. That’s about double the rent per square metre as a newly built apartment with a harbour view in the Teglholmen district in Copenhagen’s  south harbour. ”

Jacob Møldrup-Lakjer, legal counsel at the tenant interest organisation Lejernes LO (LLO).

Rent increases by 20 per cent

Shrimpton’s two rooms, that according to the UCPH Housing Foundation website are a total of 30 square metres, he has himself measured to 24 square metres. It’s the only dorm where the housing foundation includes public spaces and exterior walls in the size of the rooms, but this cannot be seen on the website.

Yet the price is high: The couple have paid DKK 8,408 a month (including utilities and charges for administration, maintenance and furniture) for the lease which has a toilet and a kitchen in the form of two hotplates.

Now the rent will be hiked up. DKK 10,056 a month will have to be paid by the new residents when Adam Shrimpton and his wife move out. An increase of 20 per cent.

[See the information about the new rent and other expenses for Adam Shrimptons room at Rebslagervej dorm on the housing foundation’s website.]

Double up from Teglholmen

The annual price per square metre for the lease increases from approximately DKK 3,000 to DKK 3,500.

Boligportal.dk calculated in 2015 the average annual rent per square metre to DKK 1,500 for rental housing offered in the Northwest Copenhagen area on their website.

Jacob Møldrup-Lakjer, legal counsel at Lejernes LO (LLO) can therefore understand why students think that they are paying an unreasonably high price.

“It sounds crazy. That’s about double the rent per square metre as a newly built apartment with a harbour view in the Teglholmen district in Copenhagen’s  south harbor,” he says.

Non-profit is misleading

The Housing Foundation calls itself a “non-profit” and it is clear from the articles of association that the main purpose is “to establish university housing under the act on social housing.”

“Our service is not supported financially by the State or by the university, but neither are they profiting from the extra service that we offer international students and staff. All proceeds go to pay for costs associated with providing this service,” the housing foundation writes on its website.

The ‘non-profit’ part of this statement should not be taken at face value, according to Jacob Møldrup-Lakjer,.

“No matter what the Foundation writes about good intentions, it is a private landlord who must make money. The foundation has no status as a nonprofit housing organization, so it is nothing more than a fancy statement of intent,” the legal counsel from LLO says.

In the past we have tried to keep some of the most expensive homes down artificially in price, but we can no longer defend this.

Torben Snowman, interim director, University of Copenhagen Housing Foundation

Møldrup-Lakjer adds that the building on Rebslagervej cannot be considered a student dorm just because the Housing Foundation calls it one. The place is owned by a private company, which rents the building out to the Housing Foundation, which then rents the rooms out to international students with an administrative, maintenance and furnishing fee added on.As one of the consequences, the Housing Foundation is not required to set up a housing unit board, where representatives elected by tenants can gain insight into budgets and costs.

“The company probably has a good return on its investment, and that is why the rent is also so high,” says Jacob Møldrup-Lakjer.

Contracts cannot be compared

The UCPH Housing Foundation’s interim director Torben Snowman writes in a response to the University Post that there, in conjunction with a thorough check and ‘legalization’ of rents and contracts, has been many changes.

Rent increases as well as price reductions apply only to new bookings for the spring of 2017, so students know the price before booking, and can decide whether they want the property at the advertised price or not.

“Prices for basic rent in the old system / contracts and the new A9 contract forms are not directly comparable. There will be amounts that previously were included in our service contract, which are now on the lease, or which were listed separately, and which are now included in the basic rent. In addition, utilities are now in a number of places a payment on account and not, as previously, a fixed amount. This often causes an increase in payments but tenants will get any surplus payments back,” he writes in the response.

Rent kept artificially low

He concedes that the rent has increased some places, but writes that the housing foundation cannot get the percentage increases that Adam Shrimpton has calculated from the foundation’s website to tally with their information.

“In the past, we have tried to keep prices in some of the more expensive homes artificially lower, but we can no longer defend this. All this happened in connection with us ensuring that everything was done legally. We have also residences that have fallen by over 15 per cent. It should be noted that an artificially low rent means that the Housing Foundation will end with a loss or that fees on other leases will have to be increased accordingly. The Housing Foundation is a non-profit organization, however with a reasonable build up of capital in line with the expansion of activities,” the Housing Foundation writes in response to the University Post.

As to the rent increase on Rebslagervej, the foundation’s interim director says that they have been forced to hike up electricity to DKK 431 a month per home, because “international students unfortunately often give no thought to things like electricity costs.”

Maintains numbers

According to Adam Shrimpton’s lease contract, he paid DKK 169 a month for electricity, and it will now increase to DKK 700 a month for future residents, i.e. by DKK 531.

The increase in electricity can therefore only partly explain why the total rent now increases from DKK 8,408 a month to DKK 10,056 a month – a DKK 1,648 increase in total.

Shrimpton maintains that all information on the cost of the basic rent, heating, electricity, water, antenna, furniture and internet for all leases are freely available on the Housing Foundation website, so the figures for 2016 and 2017 are comparable.

Jacob Møldrup-Lakjer informs us that LLO set up a project where they will associate international students who are tenants of the Foundation to a special business agreement with LLO, so they can get advice and support.

 

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