Cystle Cairo
Image credit: Levien Willemse

Rotterdam does not really have a housing crisis. Yet over a quarter of the students are (very) dissatisfied with their landlord. Where Crystle Cairo lives, they have waited five years for the extractor hood to be repaired.

Master student in Law, Crystle Cairo (20), had to wait three years for housing association Stadswonen to repair the extractor hood in her student house. “In all, the thing was broken for five years, because the student who had my room before me had waited for two years before that. Two months ago, the extractor hood was finally repaired. I’d called about it on over ten occasions.”

In hot weather, the problem wasn’t so bad. Then Cairo could just open a window to get rid of any cooking smells. “But when it was very cold or raining, it wasn’t a good idea to deep fry something or cook a curry because the smell would linger for hours.” Stadswonen probably didn’t think the problem was very serious, Cairo thinks. “Otherwise, they’d surely have mended it sooner.”

Poor ventilation

This isn’t the only problem that the law student has had with the student housing association. “The ventilation here is bad anyway, making our rooms boiling hot in the summer months. You can’t sleep here when it’s 35 degrees. But they didn’t think sun blinds were necessary.”

Also, the walls in the corridor are stained and the carpet is ‘frayed’. “It’s been like that for years. They only mend acute problems like a blown fuse in the kitchen quickly. In that case, they’ll even send someone over at the weekend.”

The house is just getting shabbier

Cairo feels that landlords should spend more money on tackling deferred maintenance. “When I started my studies, I paid 360 euros in rent. Now it’s 400 euros. If that extra money was put into improving the building, I wouldn’t mind paying more. But the building is just getting shabbier, not nicer.”

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.