Every year, the Netherlands has the Rack-renter of the Year election. The man or woman who treats the tenants the worst or charges extortionate rates receives the award from the Dutch Student Union and Rood, the youth branch of the Socialist Party.
The union has seen the number of complaints made by tenants rise in recent years, in particular the number of cases of threats against students who want to take action. This is why they are demanding a harder approach against notorious rack-renters.
This year, Wim Bulten, a landlord in Groningen who owns 110 buildings, was unanimously voted ‘Rack-renter of 2010’. The man also won the very first Rack-renter of the Year election in 2003. According to the jury’s report for 2010, he has not learned any lessons since then. Tenants who get on the wrong side of him are sometimes intimidated or even assaulted by accomplices. It is said that he tried to push a ‘troublesome’ tenant down the stairs. There was also a complaint from female students who were forced to perform a striptease for him; whoever was the best, would get the room. In a reaction by telephone, landlord Bulten called his election “too bizarre for words”.