Rotterdam does not really have a housing crisis. Yet, over a quarter of the students are (very) dissatisfied with their landlord. Where Fabio Spano lives, they need a network of extension leads to operate their appliances.

When Fabio Spano (22), student of Economics and Business Economics, arrives home in the evening to his student house on Nieuwe Binnenweg, he has to be careful not to trip over the various extension leads all over the floor. And it’s virtually impossible to get a late-night snack from the kitchen without stumbling.

Wires everywhere

When the fuses in the kitchen kept tripping, he and his housemates thought up an ingenious plan to allow them to continue washing up and doing their laundry. The washing machine and dishwasher are now connected to other plug sockets in the house where the power is stable by extension leads. This is a practical solution in response to a situation which is the result of a lax landlord. “We obviously need to wash, otherwise things would become a terrible mess,” says Spano.

As the senior member of the house, he liaises between his landlord and seven other – male – housemates. “I initially thought that we weren’t getting a satisfactory response from our landlord because the other student wasn’t making enough effort. But now that I’m responsible for contacting him, I find that the situation is more nuanced.”

Waiting weeks for repairs

Generally, Spano and his housemates are very happy with their student house. They have a big living room and a dishwasher is obviously quite a luxury for a student house. The problem also isn’t that their landlord is difficult to get hold of, says Spano. “He usually calls back within half an hour and responds normally, he’s not aggressive or anything.” But if repairs are needed, like when the fuses blow, it takes weeks before he does anything. “It takes ages before an engineer comes round.”

And that isn’t right, the student feels. “It’s really awkward having extension leads everywhere. But without these extension leads, the boiler doesn’t work, nor do the dishwasher and washing machine. As a student, you need to be able to wash your clothes normally.” Thanks to the landlord, it will be a while before they can do that.

This summer EM joined up with Yournalism, a platform for research journalism, and ten other higher education media to conduct a survey into the student lodging market. The whole dossier is available here.