Steve and Jessica moved into the Rikkers-Lubbershuis, a student house at the corner of de Heresingel and de Rademarkt, only two days ago. But the American students are already worrying about being evicted. ‘We’ve received a letter from Studentstay – the rental housing agency – warning us that if we disturb the neighbours with excessive noise once more, we’ll have to leave’, Jessica says.
Steve nods and adds: ‘We realize that we’ve caused nuisances with our parties, but sometimes the complaints from neighbours are overstated. We can’t even make a phone call in the courtyard because they say we speak too loudly.’
Neighbours filed a formal complaint with the municipality last week. The complaint mentioned excessive partying, smoking, and door-slamming. The neighbours hoped the temporary license for the student house would be revoked. It wasn’t.
Vera, a German girl in her first year at university, says it’s unfair to blame the students: ‘We’re about fifty students living here and we all spend most of our time in the lounge and the courtyard, which are attached to the neighbouring buildings, because they are the only areas with Wi-Fi. If Studentstay or the landlord set up a Wi-Fi network for the whole building, we would stay in our rooms more.’
Ed van den Brink is one of the unhappy neighbours. He acknowledges that the problem is not simply a group of students having a party until late at night. He too blames Studentstay and the building’s owner, the Schove Group: ‘They seem not to care much about the tenants and the municipality’s rules; they are just interested in getting the rent at the end of the month.’
Van den Brink says better communication between landlord and tenants – especially involving house rules aimed at improving the relationship with the neighbourhood – could have solved the situation a long time ago: ‘If companies such as Studentstay want to help host the wave of newly arrived international students, they should do it properly’, Van den Brink says.
Schove Group says it can’t do much about the issue. ‘We’re not the landlord, just the owner, so we cannot do anything to solve this problem.’
No legal ground
However, students don’t have to be afraid they will be evicted for making too much noise. Denise Zonnebeld, a rental law consultant for Frently, says the eviction process isn’t that easy. ‘Evicting someone because of neighbour’s disturbances is difficult’, she says. ‘The person who has the legal ground to evict a tenant from a building is not the landlord or the municipality, but a judge.’