“We are fully aware that the members of our association cause nuisance from time to time,” says Rosa Jelsma, president of student association RSC/RVSV, on stage at the Pro Rege auditorium. More than a hundred local residents listened in during the annual residents’ meeting in Kralingen.
Her board is working hard to address this, she explained. Many of the association’s members live in student houses in Kralingen. “We tell our first-year members right from the start that they are located in a residential area. We emphasise this all year long, through emails and other communication channels. We walk around the neighbourhood ourselves on busy evenings, first and foremost for our students’ safety, but also so that we can limit nuisance.”
Traffic light model
The municipality also informed residents about its approach to student nuisance in the neighbourhood. Those in attendance included alderman Vincent Karremans and safety director for residential nuisance Rob Keereweer. They gave an update on the traffic light model. Two houses are currently on ‘red’. In the worst cases, the mayor intervenes and fines are imposed on the residents and the owner.
“They receive behavioural instructions which set out what they absolutely should not do,” Keereweer says. “If they continue committing violations, the room permit can be revoked.” Thus far, no fines have been imposed and no permits have been revoked.
‘Last year, emotions were running high because residents felt that the municipality wasn’t listening to them.’
It is difficult to say whether the situation in Kralingen has improved compared to last year, says Arthur ten Have, president of residents’ initiative STOK. “The measures have only been in place since February, so we can’t yet conclude whether they really work.” However, the atmosphere this year is calmer than it was at last year’s meeting. “Emotions were running high at the time because residents felt that the municipality wasn’t listening to them,” he says.
But that doesn’t mean the problems have been solved. In her speech, resident Sanneke van Hassel listed a number of examples, especially from Kralingen West – the neighbourhood with the most student room rentals in Rotterdam, according to the municipality. “I know residents who have spent dozens of nights writing objections against room permits and then attending hearings,” she says. “Filing nuisance reports and objecting to room permits is really not our hobby.”
Consultation hour in Kralingen: ‘I don’t really like students anymore’
During an open consultation hour last Wednesday, residents of Kralingen had the chance to…
New attendees at this year’s meeting included representatives from Erasmus University. Head of Student Services Joop Matthijse was in attendance to listen to the complaints. He explained that the university is working with student housing provider SSH to combat nuisance caused by international students. “But besides that, there isn’t much more we can do,” he says.
Among the residents were Cloé and Thomas, two international students who are studying International Business Administration. “We’re aware that students are causing a lot of problems and we want to learn more about it,” Cloé says. They have been living in the Lusthofkwartier since August. “It took us a lot of effort to find this house and we don’t want to lose it. That’s why we want to know what we can and can’t do,” Thomas says. They don’t speak Dutch themselves, but their neighbour sat by their side to translate. “International students don’t understand that this is a huge problem because all the information is in Dutch. Everyone talks about international students, and as international students we want to be part of the discussion.”
How does the traffic light model work?
The ‘traffic light model’ is the most important part of the approach to tackle nuisance in Kralingen. When a report is made and a house is confirmed to be causing nuisance, the house receives five points. Houses remain on ‘green’ until they have 10 points. ‘Yellow’ is assigned to any house with between 10 and 30 points. Green and yellow houses receive a home visit from the municipality. Houses with 30 points or more are deemed ‘orange’, in which case the municipality contacts both the residents and the owner. ‘Red’ is above 60 points. Such situations are truly problematic and the mayor can issue behavioural instructions. This comes with a fine of €500 for residents and €2,000 for the owner for each subsequent violation. If residents continue causing nuisance, there is a risk that the room permit will be revoked.
If no reports have been made about a house for six months, that house’s score will go down by 10 points. This way a house can downgrade from one colour to another. At the moment, two student houses are on red, 18 are on orange, 38 are on yellow and 65 are on green.