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Many international students find SSH rooms dirty upon arrival


Forty percent of international students feel that their furnished SSH room was not clean when they received their key. This became evident from an annual monitor of ISHA, the International Student Housing Assistance.

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Almost a quarter of the international tenants say they are 'very dissatisfied' with the cleaning of their rooms. Another 16 percent is 'unsatisfied'.

It is a striking outcome of an ISHA survey (pdf) among 265 international students, including 226 foreign students who rent a so-called short-stay room through the SSH. In almost half of the cases these were exchange students who spent one semester in a furnished SSH room in Utrecht, only a small minority of those questioned attended a full Master's or Bachelor's degree at the UU. The questionnaire was distributed at the end of 2017 and throughout the first half 2018.

Spider webs everywhere
This year, ISHA explicitly asked whether international students felt that their room was clean on arrival for the first time. For a short-stay room, students must pay a certain amount for the cleaning of the room before arrival, a cleaning fee. The amount of this fee depends on the size of the room. Usually this would not be more than a couple tens of euros.

The judgments vary considerably per complex. For example, rooms in the SSH complexes de Warande, Biltstraat, Predikherenstraat and Kanaalstraat are considered dirty. Some of the complaints are also focused mainly on the common areas and kitchens. For example, not only the stoves, but the plates and cutlery would often have been anything but clean as well.

A response that is included in the ISHA report reads: “It was not clean. Spider webs everywhere, the windows oh my god, they look they've never been cleaned before. Stains on the ground. And we pay 60 euros per person for this? Pff.”

Limited cleaning time
A spokesperson for the SSH reacted to this saying that the complaints are “very unnerving” to her. She attributes these mainly to the short time span (28 hours) in which the rooms have to be cleaned, as the next tenant is eager to move in. Last August there were complaints as well, which came from the satisfaction survey of the SSH. The spokesperson emphasizes that the cleaning fee does not exceed the level of the actual cleaning costs. “It is not that we have money left.”

In an additional email the SSH writes: “Despite inspections from the cleaning company and SSH employees, it remains difficult to check all rooms one hundred percent. Most of the rooms are completely clean, but unfortunately it can happen that a student comes across a little bit of dirt that is overlooked. Our cleaning companies usually pick up these complaints the same day, but we realize that a student can only have one first impression of the room.”

Key transfer no longer in De Uithof
ISHA spokesperson Eef Brands trusts that the SSH takes the complaints seriously. That, from the beginning of next year, the key transfer takes place in the room itself or in its vicinity, she deems positive. Until now, international students had to go to the Johanna in De Uithof for this, which is rather difficult if you are just arriving with heavy suitcases. Brands: “We are pleased that the SSH is taking action against the issues that emerge from our monitor.”

In general, according to the ISHA report, international tenants are quite satisfied with the SSH as landlords and with regard to their room. The communication with the landlord is appreciated as well as the interior and size of their room. Many students seem to find the rooms rather large. “Why are these so big? We have a HOUSING CRISIS”, was one of the comments. Opinions differ on the price of the room; over the years, more and more students seem to find the rooms to be too expensive.

The fact that the SSH rooms are popular, according to ISHA, is proved by a question about the type of rooms for which international students prefer. The answers show that three-quarters of the respondents prefer a small to medium-sized room up to 400 euros. According to the representative, this shows that the demand for expensive luxury rooms, such as The Student Hotel, which are offered in various cities, mainly occurs due to shortages on the housing market. Students would not choose it themselves it if they had this option.


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