Independent journalism about VU Amsterdam | Since 1953
23 June 2024

Student Life
& Society

Money soon to be made available for ‘block heating’

Tenants in student complexes are to get lower energy bills thanks to government assistance. The only question is how soon this money will get to those students.

Now that energy prices have gone through the roof, the government is trying to cushion the effect on citizens by introducing a price cap: a maximum price for the energy up to a specific level of consumption per energy connection. Households already got 380 euros discount on their bill for November and December.

But in some buildings the tenants share a single connection. They might have ‘block heating’ or they might all come under the same energy contract that has been concluded by the landlord. They then consume too much energy to benefit from a price cap and they also miss out on the 380-euro discount.

The government plans to come up with something for that situation as well. At the end of last year, Minister for Climate and Energy Policy Rob Jetten outlined a special scheme. Landlords will be able to apply for a subsidy for their tenants from the Tax and Customs Administration.

On course

Everyone is working hard to make this a reality, says Jos Bakker, policy officer at Kences, the umbrella organisation of student housing providers. Naturally, something unforeseen might crop up, but he believes that the ministry is on course to go public with the scheme in mid-February, as already announced by Minister Jetten.

Tenants who have their own front door will still get the 380-euro discount and tenants of ‘housing units that are not self-contained’ will get some of that amount. The main question is how much subsidy each occupant will get as a counterpart to the price cap from which other people benefit. That depends in part on the energy price and the average energy consumption.

Landlords will get the money in two rounds. That gives rise to a degree of uncertainty, says Bakker, because by law they are not allowed to change their service charges more than once a year and the energy price for the second round is not yet known.

How fast?

Landlords would prefer students to pay the exact correct amount of service charges every month, he explains, so they will not get a large refund in the final settlement. “Otherwise they will get the money only after a year.” On the other hand, if they make too low an estimate of the service charges, tenants will have to pay an additional amount later.

The details have yet to be made known. But Bakker is confident and does not expect any problems. “We are doing everything we can for our tenants to ensure they get compensation that does justice to their situation.”

Translation: Taalcentrum-VU

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