‘There are no walls, the elevators are constantly broken and I can’t get anyone on the line even through the emergency number.’ UvA students complain about their Xior accommodation in Amsterdam Zuidoost.
Chloe (21, PPLE) assumed she would have her own bedroom, so she was surprised to find there were only a few cupboards separating her bed from that of her roommates’. ‘And everything was covered in mud, even though we paid a cleaning fee of 150 euros. When I complained, Xior’s solution was that I could move out without any further cost.’
At the beginning of September, the UvA offered 3,080 new freshmen a room in a new residential complex run by real estate company Xior, leaving fifty international students on the waiting list.
In 2017 there were already complaints lodged against Xior concerning its Spinoza campus in Rotterdam after students started a petition because they missed a common room and the heating didn’t work. Chloe decided to start her own petition in Amsterdam. So far 137 students have signed. ‘I hope this will lower our rent and that we get money back for everything we were told we would have, but don’t.’
When we walk into the laundry room, one of only six machines (meant for 380 students) is free. This, according to Chloe, is why some of the students no longer use the free facilities, but take their laundry to a launderette. Student Arianna Cavalli (19, Psychology) also has problems with the new accommodation. She’s making lunch when we ring her doorbell. There’s a bed in the kitchen. ‘It’s my roommates’, she explains. ‘We pay the same amount of rent, but I have my own room while she sleeps in the kitchen.’
According to Annelies van Dijk, spokesperson for the UvA, it wasn’t possible to find rooms for all international students via the university’s regular providers. Van Dijk: ‘We do our utmost to offer a room to all international students on the waiting list, but it’s increasingly difficult.’ Robin Cremers, spokesperson for Xior, acknowledges there are problems with the complex at Bullewijk, and that not everything went according to plan with the contractor. ‘They sketched an unrealistic picture of how the property would look by September 1st, which is why we’ve lodged several official warnings. If we don’t manage to find a joint solution, Xior will appoint another manager for the property.’
Together with its tenants, Xior is attempting to find solutions for those students who must share their room even though they were promised their own. Cremers says students can count on financial compensation: those students who have complained their room is not clean may be refunded 75 euros or the 150 euros (cleaning fee) if they can substantiate their complaints with photos. It is not yet known whether the UvA will work with the Xior complex again next year.