For some time now, but particularly in the last three years, Kralingers have had to deal with increasing inconvenience caused by students. They are fed up with the noise and litter. Following an information evening for residents held in September, the locals decided to unite so as to be able to tackle the inconvenience together. “By joining our skills and expertise, we hope to be able to address the problem more effectively and more quickly,” said Arthur ten Have, the foundation’s chair.

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Helping the local authorities

The residents of the neighbourhood are glad that the powers that be have finally begun to do something about the inconvenience caused by students. “It’s great that the municipal government has finally admitted there is a problem. Now when we call the police late at night because of disturbances, they are more likely to actually show up,” said foundation member Sanneke van Hassel.

Starting from this year, the municipal government is planning to implement a ‘traffic light system’, which is to say that student houses will be assigned to one of three categories: green, orange and red. If students living in a particular house are particularly annoying and cause their house to be branded ‘red’, the municipal government may go so far as to withdraw the owner’s right to let the house to students in particularly egregious cases. “The plan needs some further detailing, though, so we’ve established two working groups that will help the municipal government. They will help the authorities explore their options and determine how the measures can be implemented soon,” said Ten Have.

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Student housing

STOK hopes that the student population will be distributed more evenly across the city in the future, thus preventing them from living in Kralingen only. “We are not against students,” Ten Have sought to emphasise. “We just think the way in which students are being housed is problematic.”

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Van Hassel agrees with this statement. She believes that ‘verkamering’ (the practice whereby houses are converted into rooms for people who do not form a household together) is the real problem, as well as the cause of the inconvenience suffered by the people of Kralingen. She has lived in Adamhofstraat for over fifteen years and experiences inconvenience every day. “The number of investment properties being let to students has increased dramatically, thus causing the inconvenience,” she said. By way of example, she mentioned that 70 per cent of houses in her part of the street have been converted into student bedsits. “Many houses are still being sold to investors. Officially, no more properties are allowed to be converted into student houses, but across the street from my own house, an investor is planning to let rooms to students.” For his part, Ten Have adds: “In Amsterdam the rules stipulate that if you convert a house into individual bedsits, you must meet additional requirements, such as soundproofing. Our municipal government could impose similar requirements. Or alternatively, the municipal government could impose policies that discourage people from converting houses into rooms for students.”

It’s the university’s problem, as well

Van Hassel believes that it would be good for the university to be more involved and engaged. “The number of students has gone up, and no one really considered how to find housing for them.” Over the course of a 10-year period, EUR’s student population grew by 50 per cent. According to the university’s own annual report, more than 20,000 students attended EUR in 2008. By now that number has risen to over 30,000. “Naturally, students must have a place to live, and as long as no alternatives are provided, student housing will continue to be problematic. They’re entitled to a happy student life, and they’re welcome to it, as far as I’m concerned. But in the present situation, there are too many students living in one spot, which is causing inconvenience to their neighbours.”

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