Executive lawyer: “They have the right to get their money back”

- in Nyheter
@Axel Jönsson

Exorbitant rent, charge for rent-free months during summer and doubtful conditions in the agreements. At the tenants’ association they are not satisfied with how the university manages their role as landlord.

Mats Lindahl, executive lawyer at the tenants’ association, gets upset when he examines the conditions for the exchange students together with Lundagård. The administration fee which Folkuniversitetet/IHO defends in their official letter is not a problem he thinks. He is more critical towards their way of handling the rents.

– If IHO charges the tenant five months rent but only lets her live there for 4,33months then they have charged an exorbitant rent for that period, says Mats Lindahl.

He also thinks the average rents are problematic.

– They are not supposed to charge average rents. The tenants’ association has negotiated with the house-owner AF Bostäder and established the rent after a reasonable value of use, says Mats Lindahl.

No serious business

That the procedure should be difficult and IHO therefore for administrative reasons don’t charge the negotiated rent is not a valid reason according to him.

– That’s just ridiculous. With modern technique it is simply dead easy. Every landlord who runs a serious business can do this. Why shouldn’t the state be able to do it? It all comes down to having the right computer programme and someone to enter the correct data, how much can that cost? SEK 5,000? asks Mats Lindahl.

A difference of SEK 500

IHO, which is administered by Folkuniversitetet, arranges the subletting to the exchange students on behalf of the university. But it is the university which stands as opponent when negotiations are made with AF Bostäder and it is the university which stands as landlord when it comes to subletting.

– This is a State institution which is engaged in a lot of shady business which I don’t think corresponds to our legislation. Instead of juggling with legislation they should find out what is right and what is wrong, says Mats Lindahl with noticeable indignation.

The agreements that Lundagård has studied show a difference in rent of more than SEK 500 per month above the established value of use. An addition which for the single exchange student results in more rent per year by thousands of SEK.

– In this case they charge more than the negotiated rent and my opinion is then that the students have a right to a refund. You should go to the rent tribunal for refunding and establishing of the rent. If you are concerned about the consequences the tenant can also apply for a refund within three months after actually moving out.

Exorbitant rent

In addition to the university charging an exorbitant rent there are also students who have to pay rent during the summer months, which are to be free of rent.

– The way things are now these students automatically pay 25 per cent more rent than they would have done with AF Bostäder. IHO has to make a choice here. Either you spread the rent based on the value of use over twelve months or the students are allowed to stay during summer without being charged. Otherwise they have charged exorbitant rent in my opinion, says Mats Lindahl who dismisses Per Ola Olsson’s argument that this only concerns a minority of the students.

– What difference does it make? For every single tenant who pays too much rent it is important for that very tenant, he states.

It’s all wrong

Charge for the summer months for some students, but exorbitant rent and exorbitant conditions in every examined agreement. Mats Lindahl points out that the tenant according to Swedish legislation has a right to pay per month. But he also says that the problem is that the exchange student has to pay a lump sum before he gets possession of his room.

In the conditions it is also written that the exchange student must put his room at IHO’s disposal during daytime for maintenance, which Mats Lindahl thinks is all wrong and an exorbitant condition. There is also a passage about contacting the exchange student’s home university in cases of ”unacceptable behaviour”.

– There is no law against this kind of condition but it seems a bit silly, like “we will call your mother”.

Text: Axel Jönsson
Translation: Yvonne Tevström