Threats, mismanaged housings and raw sevage that is spilled out right outside the window. These are just some of the conditions 200 tenants have endured at Lund University’s newest international student accommodation.
“Do you see that pipe?” asks Tim Kuusihovi, pointing out the window of his friend’s ground floor flat in Pålsjöäng.
“That’s actually the drainage of the toilet for the workers. In the middle of winter that was broken, so everything would just flush out right there.”
The raw sewage was spilling out in front of Lund University’s newest student accommodation. And this housing, which is provided by LU Accommodation, is also one of Lund’s most expensive, at SEK 4400-4600 a month.
The housing is a building site
When visiting Pålsjöäng it’s not difficult to see the failures. Officially opened in November 2012 and described as a “Christmas present to the students” by Lund University Vice-Chancellor Per Eriksson, the homes are currently still unfinished – this is despite being hailed as innovative modular units that can be built in just 26 days.
Heavy machinery growls loudly outside, some external walls are still just thin wood fibre boards exposed to the elements. Numerous piles of earth and gravel are scattered around, and walking is difficult with uneven surfaces everywhere.
Fixes door with towels
Alexander Hoffman from Germany, is an Environmental Sciences Masters (LUMES) student. His apartment has large cracks in the walls, leaking windows and drafts coming through doors.
He has been forced to install rubber-lining around the frame of his balcony door in an attempt to stave off the cold winds. And with heating not working for much of the winter, drafts like this become even more significant.
Tim Kuusihovi, also a LUMES student from Germany, describes a one centimetre gap under the door to his balcony:
“Air just comes in. I have towels lying there to ‘fix it’ but that’s obviously not how it should be done.”
The drafts, however, are the least of the two student’s worries. The door to Alexander Hoffman’s ground floor balcony is in fact entirely unlockable. The entrance doors to Tim Kuusihovi’s corridor were also forced to remain open to the world after a failed attempt by the accommodation authority to fix the door locks. For a time, even the garbage collection stopped.
Got threatened after complaints
The students’ challenges does not stop there. Flavia Speiski from Brazil, a third LUMES student, tells of threats and abuse when she tried to complain about her heating problems.
”It hadn’t been working properly for more than a month so I called and called LU Accommodation (Luacc) to complain.”
After the phone call, Flavia Speiski got an unpleasant visit by two men. She believes Luacc contacted an external company that maintained the housing, who sent further representatives to her home.
“They were really pissed off with me, shouting and pointing their fingers in my face and threatening me. It was really bad. When they left I cried and cried. It was awful.”
Flavia Speiski went straight to Luacc to report the incident. They were shocked and assured her it had never happened before and that the men would not come back. She was also referred to the student psychologist.
Two days later, however, the same men did come back.
“Luckily two people from my course were with me this time, so the men came in pretending they were just checking the temperature. I believe they were coming back to threaten me again.”
A level of financial compensation of SEK 1000 has been paid to the Pålsjöäng residents. Some of them with the worst experiences has been paid more. However, as is so often the case, monetary relief does not in any way deal with the very root of the problem, which can only be described as negligence and exploitation.
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