Campus 9/11-15 10:10

Students: UCPH Housing Foundation is cheating on deposits

UCPH Housing Foundation November 2015 story
Photo: Yifan Liu
The University of Copenhagen's housing unit is overcharging on rents, withholding deposits, and trumping up fees, students claim. Now the students are fighting back

The UCPH Housing Foundation may now face being swamped by cases of students demanding deposits back.

Copenhagen’s rental complaints courts have started to rule against them. And international students are now organizing against what they consider illegal behavior by the University of Copenhagen-affiliated foundation that rents rooms out to international students and staff.

"I study law and work for a legal organization. I am trying to organize students to seek legal recourse through the rental tribunals," says Grace Krutsch, a former University of Copenhagen student and tenant of the UCPH Housing Foundation to the University Post.

Litany of complaints

In an e-mail sent to the housing foundation, Grace writes that, "we believe that the Housing Foundation exploits students from foreign countries, who do not speak the language in Denmark, thus are not familiar with the local laws and their rights. We have come to believe that the Housing Foundation takes financial advantage of students who are in need of accommodation, have little money and are only in Denmark for a relatively short time, thus have limited ability to seek adequate remedies for their unfair treatment."

She has started a group, 'Students Against the UCPH Housing Foundation', and goes on to detail what she calls improper and illegal conduct on the part of the housing unit.

Each paid for a one-bedroom apartment: "We were each not aware that we would be sharing with two other students"

The litany of complaints assembled by her includes the renting out of one bedroom apartments to multiple people, attempts to withhold deposits, and excessive cleaning fees. The students paint a picture of an organization that is systematically and, they say, fraudulently, exploiting those who have often left the country and who feel they have no recourse.

Triple bookings

In one case, for the month of September 2014, Edward Mannion, Stephen Byde and Conor Mahan each paid DKK 3,063, and a combined total of DKK 9,189 rent per calendar month for a one-bedroom apartment on the outskirts of Østerbro.

"We were each not aware that we would be sharing with two other students," they have written in a statement that they have shared with the University Post.

The situation for three unlucky students (Photo courtesy of Edward Mannion)

A so-called 'cleaning fee' subsequent to a lease is a chapter in itself. In one case, five complainants, including Grace Krutsch herself, were deducted DKK 4,400 in cleaning charges. When questioned, the Housing Foundation e-mailed pictures of other areas of the building that had no connection to the place where the students lived. The Housing Foundation later confirmed via e-mail that the cleaning charges were for the entire Åboulevarden building. Images sent to the students were from different apartments.

Photos of wrong rooms

Cleaning charges also work, apparently, before a student moves into an apartment. Unclean apartments are rented out, and the students are subsequently charged for inspections. But Bjarki Madsen describes the room he got as "disgusting when we got it," saying that, "the first thing we did was to buy cleaning supplies and clean the whole place."

Image from Bjarki Madsen's room. "The first thing we did was to buy cleaning supplies..." (Photo courtesy of Bjarki Madsen)

This did not stop the UCPH Housing Foundation from charging a ‘mandatory inspection fee’. Deposit returns after a lease are routinely accompanied by a bank transfer fee of DKK 500.

Rental Complaints Court ruled in favour of student

Students are provoked by UCPH Housing Foundation behaviour that to them seems more like a profit-seeking landlord than an organisation oriented towards a public service. This behaviour includes the e-mailing of photos of unclean rooms to the clean room students when they complain. Something that according to the documentation that the University Post has been sent, has happened several times.

In at least one case, a Copenhagen rental tribunal has already ruled in favour of one student’s complaint. The case has subsequently been appealed by the UCPH Housing Foundation.

The student, who does not wish to be named, has detailed his case to the University Post.

Housing Foundation: We don't have to release documents

The University Post has asked for access to documents on withheld deposits at the UCPH Housing Foundation under the Danish Information Act. The University Post request was refused after nine days of deliberation where the request was debated by their lawyer and the Housing Foundation’s board.

”We are a private foundation and are thereby not subject to the Danish Information Act [Loven om Aktindsigt],” Charlotte Simonsen, Director of the UCPH Housing Foundation wrote in her e-mail response to the University Post.

Whether the UCPH Housing Foundation should allow media access to documents is unclear. Under Danish law, institutions that are formally independent and organised under private law, are excepted from laws on access to public documents under the Danish Information Act. Universities, however, although formally independent are subject to the law.

Dependent on rent and fees

Either way, the UCPH Housing Foundation is using the UCPH brand name, UCPH of course explicitly standing for University of Copenhagen. The UCPH Housing Foundation is hosted on the UCPH website, has offices on UCPH’s Frederiksberg campus. Chairman of the Board is Grete Bertelsen, prodean at the UCPH Faculty of Science. The staff have ku.dk (UCPH) e-mails and requests concerning international housing are routinely channeled to their offices.

Charlotte Simonsen, Director of the University of Copenhagen Housing Foundation, says that she is sorry to hear that students find the fees related to housing too high.

“We do not agree with this”, she says, adding that "the list of fees should be known to everybody as they are stated both in the rental contracts and on our website.”

Charlotte Simonsen, UCPH Housing Foundation: "I am sorry if any students feel mistreated, that is definitely not our intention”.

She rejects the claims that the UCPH Housing Foundation is taking advantage of students.

“We are a non-profit organization, and we do not receive any financial support or subsidy. This means that our existence is dependent on income from rent and fees and that any kind of profit is invested directly in acquiring more rooms for the students, i.e. renting new places, furnishing them, renovating existing housing etc.”

Only four official complaints

According to her, rental income, income from withheld deposits, and income from fees are all accounted separately. The Foundation's Board regularly reviews the levels of rent and charges.

The UCPH Housing Foundation's six employees have their offices on Frederiksberg Campus

The UCPH Housing Foundation gets a number of queries about withheld deposits and fees, according to Charlotte Simonsen. But the Foundation has only had four official complaints cases in 2015, including three from Copenhagen's rental complaints court. "We consider this a low figure considering that there are 1,380 rooms rented out a year," she says.

Students perceive us as part of UCPH

As for the perception among some students that a DKK 500 fee for an international bank transfer is high, Charlotte Simonsen explains that "an international bank transfer costs up to DKK 270 – and to this you have to add significant manual administration time, which may be unknown to some of our tenants."

"We are a non-profit organization. Monies are spent on repairing or improving housing. We are audited every year, as per law. Everything is done by the book", she says, adding that "I am sorry if any students feel mistreated, that is definitely not our intention”."

Charlotte Simonsen, UCPH Housing Foundation: "We reply to all emails in the order they are received. I can assure you that no queries are ignored..."

The UCPH Housing Foundation got its initial capital from UCPH, but is financially independent and therefore fully user-financed without any additional financial support, Charlotte Simonsen explains.

Do you consider yourself part of the University of Copenhagen?
"One of the central points is that our organization is legally independent from UCPH. So strictly speaking, no. But we know that some of the students see us as part of UCPH, which makes sense since we work very closely together with UCPH. The international students and staff coming to UCPH are our primary customer.”

Not responding to queries

In the meantime, students have to contend with a Housing Foundation that, students say, does not respond to students’ questions and complaints. Christina Stath had electricity black-outs once a week for hours at a time due to ‘fragile circuits’ with no compensation - and requests ignored.

Simple requests for more information are neglected. In one of the many sample cases collected by 'Students Against UCPH Housing Foundation', a student was charged DKK 1,760 for the cleaning of a flat, despite leaving it spotless. The Housing Foundation had not, at time of publishing, responded to her request for more information.

According to Charlotte Simonsen, Director of the UCPH Housing Foundation, they do respond to all queries. "We reply to all emails in the order they are received. I can assure you that no queries are ignored, however if an email ends up in our spam-filter (for instance if the email is sent numerous times), naturally then the response time is a bit delayed."

miy@adm.ku.dk

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Comments

They shutdown the local housing departments to start this!!!

By Write your name here (anonymous comments will be deleted) on 17. January 2016, 18:01.

I can just add that We used to have a very efficient and help full local housing department, who was an old lady, and she was very good at finding rooms and apartments for the students. They shut it down so that the business of this so calld UCP housing foundation could take off!!!
Also the staff there are sometimes very rude!! very very rude! When I rejected one of their offers one those junkies told me that she had many others who rejected offers and then were crying for the same offer a week later

Fees, fees and fees...

By Montse on 24. December 2015, 18:34.

I've been charged:
- 300kr for a manual change of dates. It seems that 1 min of work is really expensive)
- 440kr for additional cleaning, when I spent a day thoroughly cleaning my room.
-500kr for getting back my money by a bank transfer since the amount they have to return me (2months rent + 4000kr of the deposit) is higher that my initial payment.
Total: 1240kr!

Exploitation of unsuspecting foreign students

By Thumbe nusaka on 11. November 2015, 13:54.

Finally truth is coming out.
My experience with the housing foundation is quite pathetic. I moved out of my room in anger, only to end up in an even more pathetic situation. My former Danish landlord withheld 8,000DKK of my deposit claiming a damage (small hole) on the kitchen table even when the Mexican student with whom i shared the room told them it was there before we both moved in. I tried to get the attention of authorities to this but my emails were totally ignored.
Coming to study in DK was the worst decision I have ever made in my life.

Seeking Urgent Advice

By P.L. on 14. November 2015, 13:26.

I am just about to register for housing at UCPH, and while browsing new email inbox this morning, I noticed this article in the email newsletter. The comments of the readers are absolutely shocking.
My exchange to UC begins in February. What should I do? I heard it is very hard to find honest accommodation outside of UCPH, and I'm afraid to not use their services. What to do?

Takes pictures of the whole

By Write your name here (anonymous comments will be deleted) on 18. November 2015, 17:34.

Takes pictures of the whole apartment/room in detail, and report EVERY SINGLE THING. Anything dirty, any small hole, painting defect, whatever. Because otherwise they will make you pay for it when you leave.

Hey, i've started my exchange

By G.Geiger on 14. November 2015, 17:37.

Hey, i've started my exchange in mid-august this year.
You can find some good and much cheaper accomodation if you search for private landlords. often families which have one room to much and want to rent it out for a bit.
You can also already join some facebook groups from cph-erasmus/exchange-programmes. Ask there if someone has a recommondation where to live (maybe someone leaving after the ongoing semester who was living by a private landlord). Or book a bed&breakfast or airbnb, so you can get the phonenumber of people and ask them it would be possible to stay there for one semester (if they say yes, they do not have to pay for using the airbnb-platform and can rent it out for less. Try that f there are no other options.)
But please be very very careful with other public platforms: there are lot's of cheater and actually i know two people who were about to be cheated!
Good luck!

Pull out the 'University of Copenhagen' label

By ANINDYA on 10. November 2015, 14:57.

To be honest I perceived that Hosuing Foundation is a part of the University of Copenhagen.

When I read this paragraph, I feel disappointed.

Do you consider yourself part of the University of Copenhagen?
"One of the central points is that our organization is legally independent from UCPH. So strictly speaking, no. But we know that some of the students see us as part of UCPH, which makes sense since we work very closely together with UCPH. The international students and staff coming to UCPH are our primary customer.”

First, guidlines about housing foundation is written on the university website. Second, when we visit the office of housing foundation, we will see 'University of Copenhagen' label on its building.

My suggestion is, to make the information clearer that housing foundation is not a part of University of Copenhagen, authorised people from the university can withdrawl the label of UCPH on its building.

What a shameful!

Totally agree

By Mickael L. on 10. November 2015, 17:29.

I think we should first start a very large petition (people will not be hard to find...) for the Housing Foundation to withdraw the "UCPH" label. They simply don't deserve it at all, and University of Copenhagen should be ashamed of having its name associated.

These were exactly my problems with the housing foundation

By Hong Ng on 10. November 2015, 6:18.

I moved here to work for KU without knowing any one and had to seek help from the housing foundation.
I had to pay upfront the deposit, which is in foreign currencies, and I had to maintain the same credit card, otherwise I had to pay extra fees if there were any changes. This is ridiculous as I moved from one country to another, it does not make sense to maintain the credit card or so.
When I came, I realized the apartment is shared with another family. My family and the other family had to share kitchen and a tiny bathroom.
When I finally found a renting apartment, I told them that I would like to terminate the contract at the end of January, the told me I had to return the key on 10am 27 Jan, even though I paid the fee with till 31st Jan. I appealed several times without success, and my whole family with many stuff had to move to the hotel for 4 days before we could receive the key for the new apartment. I found that in the website later that they renters had to move out 4 days in advance. So I assume this is legal for them to do so. I found this rule extremely inconvenient and unfair for foreigners, as they may have to move to the hotel or paid rent for an extra half or 1 more month, which is very expensive.
About 1 month after moving out I received the return of my deposit, which is left little after all deductions: cleaning fees, changing credit card fee, service fee for the Feb month,....
Many things I paid for I did not understand why. For example, the service fee I had to pay monthly since the month I moved in (550 DKK per month), by why did I have to pay the service fee of 550 for the Feb while I already moved out on 26th Jan (returning keys 27th Jan)?
The cleaning fees are too much: 440 DKK for 2 hours work. I guessed the cleaning job is the most expensive in Denmark. Although we had tried to clean every single dirty spots, I did not know why they could still need to clean it!
.....
I do agree that the housing foundation explores foreigners with their own rules for many fees that are unreasonable.

Transfer fees

By Hong Ng on 10. November 2015, 6:51.

An additional issue to my earlier comment was bank transfer fee. I transferred fee from my Danske bank to pay monthly rental to the housing foundation. It costed around 325 DKK extra, on top of the rental.
That was ridiculously high, and I checked with the bank and was told that the housing foundation charged extra fees.
I would say the housing foundation set many rules to explore foreigners!

Non-romantic nights with candles

By Christina on 9. November 2015, 20:25.

I am not saying that I totally hate the Housing foundation - it is at great help when you are a foreign most likely to be homeless in Copenhagen student. BUT that is only if you receive the invitation on time and you can actually afford the 6000DKK per month for a 12 sqare meter room with a hole on the wall through which you can instantly smell what is your neighbor cooking at the very same moment...That is the case with some of my friends that rented a room through the Housing foundation.
Mine was a bit different - when I went to the Housing foundation to get the keys for my new room I was told that the place that i am moving in is completely new and renovated and everything is almost already done - only the washing machine was supposed to be placed in the day after. Of course I was very happy and excited to move in a brand new room, but when I arrived there and entered the room nothing was left of my happiness... There were still constructions running and everything was a mess - i had no electricity and no hot water the first day, no internet the first month, no place to wash my clothes for 1 month (unfortunately there was no public washing machines anywhere near). The renovations that were supposed to be done before the tenants move in were still running 2 months and a half after I moved in - drilling from 7:30 in the morning, even on Saturday for 2,5 months. Not mentioning the ridiculously high price for sharing a room at a remote location.
So, dear Housing foundation, thank you, but NO,THANK YOU. All the students that decide to trust the Housing foundation because they feel secure that it is associated with the university and they try to avoid all the scammers out there - you can never be sure that the same thing won`t happen with otherwise legal organisation...Shame, and I thought that it is a modern civilized country...

Seeking Urgent Advice

By P.L. on 14. November 2015, 13:15.

I am just about to register for housing at UCPH, and while browsing new email inbox this morning, I noticed this article in the email newsletter. The comments of the readers are absolutely shocking.

My exchange to UC begins in February. What should I do? I heard it is very hard to find honest accommodation outside of UCPH, and I'm afraid to not use their services. What to do?

How to issue official complaints?

By Julian el on 9. November 2015, 16:28.

I am almost sure that most of the affected students have not filed official complaints because they don't know how to do so. It would come very handy to everyone if someone informs us on HOW TO ISSUE AN OFFICIAL COMPLAINT in case we have serious troubles with UCPH. Overbooking, withheld deposits, misleading/false information, etc... are some of the serious problems that must be claimed. But also we must think carefully before complaining because some things are clearly stated in the contract and cannot be appealed (such as moving out three days before the contract ends, or even the monthly payments which are legal and we accept to pay upfront).

Feeling cheated

By Jordan on 9. November 2015, 16:23.

My experience with the housing foundation was fine until the issue of the deposit came about.

I was charged 440 kroner for cleaning but was not provided with photo evidence when they claimed I had not left the apartment clean. Additionally, 590 kroner was not returned to me. The response to this was that I may have not paid my rent in full and minor corrections may have been necessary.Keyword "may" here. I'm still trying to get this money back.

How can I get in touch with the student group against the foundation? I can't find information on them anywhere.

Conflicted

By Andrew on 9. November 2015, 15:48.

As as a recent exchange student at KU, I had for the most part a very enjoyable experience in the accommodation I was fortunate enough to receive, however I heard of a number of horror stories from other exchange students that made me stop and think.

My personal experience with the Housing Foundation was decent although incredibly trying at times. The organisation as a whole seems very disorganised, and there seem to be a wide range of cracks in the system through which many students slip. I appreciate with limited resources and only six staff it must be difficult managing those ~1400 students, but on many occasions the level of service provided was unacceptable for the money we paid. For example, the online booking service at the start of semester was completely over capacity and many students were not offered the full range of accommodation options simply because they received their email offers later.

In my experience the Foundation was not malicious, but often disorganised and overly bureaucratic, lots of mystery fees and emails gone missing. Others may have had different experiences though.

Where is the group??

By Pierre J. on 9. November 2015, 15:20.

The article claim a Student group to rally against the UCPH Housing Foundation, but I cannot find any either on Facebook, either through Google search whatsoever.... Where is it?? Pierre.

The fees are crazy and my bank says that they are not realistic!

By Hanne on 9. November 2015, 15:09.

Before you move in you have to pay fees, sorry but for what do I pay exactly? Yes I had to pay for my own cab, yes I had to drag all my stuff by myself to my new home.. and what did the housing foundation do?

Than we have the deposit + service fees + inspection fees. I am sorry but I do not live here yet? service fees for what? My apartment smelled like shit. There is dust and spider webs on the seiling and lamps that do not work.

Than inspection fees? My light is not working, I tried to put one light on and there was immediately a short circuit. Turned out that the lamps were broken before I moved in.. When I send an email they told me that I could buy my own new lightbulbs, I am sorry but when I have to pay a lot of money I expect proper housing.

Furthermore my biggest problem with this organisation are the fees for the rent. 250 DKK is crazy!! My bank charges (worst case scenario) maximum 75 DKK for a transfer. The Danish bank 25 DKK as it is at the moment. What is the housing foundation actually doing with the other 150 DKK each time? Are they actually non-profit and putting al this money in their housing or is it just a shield in order to hide their turn-over?

Oh yeah and than the repayment of the deposit.. They take at least 500 DKK from my deposit amount I have payed them, sorry but what the hell?

I thought they were an honest and neat organisation that help international students in order to do their studies. But it turns out that they are corrupt and they make a shame out of the name of the university when they act in this way. If I were the KU I would not have my name attached to this as the housing foundation states on their website: independent organisation..

SOS

By P.L. on 14. November 2015, 13:20.

I am just about to register for housing at UCPH, and while browsing new email inbox this morning, I noticed this article in the email newsletter. The comments of the readers are absolutely shocking.
My exchange to UC begins in February. What should I do? I heard it is very hard to find honest accommodation outside of UCPH, and I'm afraid to not use their services. What to do?

Bank transfer fee

By Lise on 9. November 2015, 14:43.

Just found out that it only costs 20 kr to transfer money form a Dutch to a Danish bank account. Where would the other 230 kr go to?

I’m feeling fooled. I thought that the housing foundation was an organization which I could trust…

Great disappointment

By Alberto Gilesi on 9. November 2015, 13:56.

The purpose of he Housing Foundation should be to help students, not exploiting our disadvantage situation of non-Danish speaker to earn bigger profits. I'm being extremely disappointed by Denmark, thanks to my shitty housing situation. Does the happiest and most corrupt country in the world look like this?

entirely different experience for me with the UCPH HF

By Katsumi on 9. November 2015, 13:46.

I lived in the shared apartments in the Frederiksberg Campus of UCPH my first year here in Copenhagen. These stories do not reflect my experience with the Housing Foundation whatsoever. I had nothing but a pleasant experience from the resources available to me. I moved here from the US and was terrified about having to find an apartment in Copenhagen. Luckily, I got a shared apartment for my first year where I literally was able to unpack and live there very comfortably for an entire year with peace of mind. The rent is not overpriced for these specific apartments and in fact they are probably underpriced considering the location (Frederiksberg). In terms of internet, I complained about spotty internet from the eduroam system and they gladly provided me with a portable wifi dongle that I was able to use wherever and whenever I pleased at no extra charge. Regarding emails, I always received a response in a timely manner. The cleaning fee was not charged to me because I cleaned the apartment and left it cleaner than when I received it. That is just the way I was brought up. I saw some of the other apartments of fellow students and they definitely did not know how to maintain a hygienic living area. Cleaning requires 'elbow grease' and SCRUBBING. If it was not for the Housing Foundation then I would have been going insane having to start a new PhD and being homeless at a hostel. They actually made an exception for me (back then they were only accommodating the SCIENCE faculty and helped me even though I am a psychology student). In short, I can see how some of these complaints might be true but the Housing Foundation is also doing a magnificent job in other ways.

Cheating of fees and transfer fees

By Heloise on 9. November 2015, 12:56.

The housing booking system didnt work for the first 10 days it was open causing me not to find a proper dorm room. I ended up in a flat for 3800dkk a month, where I couldn't cook as I wanted, had no internet, my mother was refused to stay, the landlady and family ignored me and made me feel as if my concerns were a burden. Housing foundation proceeded to tell me no one here needs the internet that much and that not even the housing foundation internet could hold up to my "usage". I think they are delusional, international students will need internet to communicate with home, we should not be told to buy extra internet.

They offer one room per person. Sure, but they ignore someone's budget. I'm sorry but telling me that they give me a room for over 7000 dkk a month, there aren't many that can afford that. Why was I charged a moving fee of 650dkk for moving from a "private flat" hosted through a danish landlady. It doesn't cost them anything to change an address under a name.

Signalhuset, the dorms cost around 3800dkk, same building other organization the same room cost 2000 something dkk. Cleaning fee 350dkk, im sorry but I watched them "clean". They said ohh it is pretty clean just through some chemicals. The cleaning staff was on the phone/skype the whole time and i'm sorry they cleaned nothing that actually needed cleaning.

Bank transfer fees, 250dkk each time. Not realistic as my German bank told me there were no fees from their end or within the EU. I contacted them over and over again for almost 3 months asking the proper amount I was owing b/c I refuse to pay the transfer fee extra times. How many bogus late fees did I pay for them to do nothing? To then get the student monitor for the building to organize a window cleaning event.

Im sorry I feel cheated, decieved and they were rude most times. Understandably the housing situation is rough for students, but then either the University needs to stop accepting so many students or they arrange better housing options. It is high time they stop taking advantage of international students.

Where is this facebook group? I can't find it. Would like to join. Thank you! Heloise

Bank transfer fee

By Bruno on 9. November 2015, 12:35.

They said that they charge 500 kr for an international bank transfer because of the transactio costs, but they actually charge the same amount for a bank transfer to an account of a Danish bank. How is that possible when most bank transfer are free of charge in Denmark?

'Students Against the UCPH Housing Foundation'

By Micha Zerbasky on 9. November 2015, 12:10.

Great article that I believe finally speaks some truth out loud about the Housing Foundation and their suspicious, if not completely obnoxious behaviour. Nevertheless, I cannot find the 'Students Against the UCPH Housing Foundation' group, could you check your information on this? Cheers - Micha

Move out three days before the contract end

By Chengyu Wu on 9. November 2015, 13:09.

They require all the tenant move out three days before the contract end. it means you have to find a hotel or other place to stay until your next contract begins in other place. The truth is that we paid money for that three days!

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Campus 10/1-17 13:02 1

Dorms Disclosed: Oresundskollegiet 2.0

Oresundskollegiet 2 cover photo
Things have changed quite a bit since we looked at Oresundskollegiet back in 2014. The University Post dropped by to see what life is like now at the dorm.

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