“We don’t mind students per se,” Mathenesserweg resident Jack Bil told RTV Rijnmond, “but we do mind having a whole lot of these houses in one part of the street.” Amsterdam-based real estate entrepreneurs have recently acquired a third house in the street separating the Spangen and Tussendijken neighbourhoods in western Rotterdam, in which they will create thirteen rooms to be let to students.
The increase in the number of student flats in the street is not going over well with the locals. Last Saturday, several of them put up banners in the street, bearing messages such as “Council, stop investors from turning our homes into single rooms to be rented out” and “Our Mathenesserweg is not a cash cow”.
Most students are passers-by who do not spend more than one or two years in a house, said local Leonie Verhoeven. “They are less involved in what’s going on here. They have a rhythm of their own, whereas we are actually trying to promote solidarity and cohesion in our street,” she said, in reference to students.
There is not much locals can do to stop houses from being converted into single rooms for rent. The real estate entrepreneurs responsible for the practice are using loopholes, says Bil. “They call it a shared living space, which means students are welcome to join. All they have to do is establish a foundation and refrain from putting locks on the doors of their rooms.”
Bil believes the street would benefit from the local authorities amending the rules and requiring investors to obtain permission for this type of student housing. This would allow the local authorities to check whether there aren’t too many of these houses in the street.