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Safe living is achieved together; the housing manager speaks from experience!

Publication date: 02-02-2022

Safe living is a topic that receives extra attention at Idealis every year. This is done through, among other things, e-mail, information on social media and additional inspections by the housing manager. Housing manager Rob Haantjes, who has worked at Idealis for almost 3 years now, explains how he experiences ‘safe living’ within student housing.

For Rob, when he started as a housing manager, it felt a bit like coming home: “My girlfriend used to live on the Haarweg, which is one of the complexes that I manage! So I knew those buildings and they are actually still exactly the same as they were then”.
What isn’t the same, is the social contact among the tenants: “The feeling of really living together, sharing the same hallway, is currently less present’’. Mobile phones, laptops and internet make that students spend more time (alone) in their room. From the past, I can especially still remember the moments where we cooked and ate together or drank a beer with each other in one of the student flats or the in the common areas of the building!’’

Safe living? Get to know your neighbours!
Rob: “Nowadays, there are complexes where students have lived for 2 years and have never even met their neighbour…’’. Luckily, there are also still tenants who seek to strengthen the ‘togetherness’ within complexes, which Rob can actively remember from the past. That is especially the case in ‘hospiteer-houses’, where students are invited to get to know the other roommates before they are chosen to come and live there. In these houses, “all doors to the bedrooms stay open, because they trust each other’’. “This concerns houses (with five rooms), with a shared front door, kitchen and shower. Here, people choose their own roommates and there is greater social control.’’ Inspired SFO*-representatives, who know the building/complex that they represent well, can play a positive role in strengthening the bond between tenants: “We can still strengthen that role of the representatives”, says Rob. 

Where is the emergency exit?!
The Idealis housing manager explains that some student have “absolutely no clue’’ that unwanted guests can enter the building via the emergency exits. Or even via the ‘normal’ entrances in the corridors, for example if someone slips through the door when a tenant enters their building/complex/corridor. “It’s very simple’’, Rob warns once again: “To illustrate, on a ‘good day’, I could easily steal five or six laptops…’’, he explains pointing to doors and windows that are left open carelessly. In addition to the ‘famous’ beer crate thief, Rob also remembers boys who opened the postal packages in the hall at a large complex without anyone noticing... "It is therefore always safer to choose a collection point when ordering something".

How to prevent fire
Besides burglary prevention, a considerable amount of attention is paid to fire safety. "Multiple refrigerators on one power strip is really not possible ... that much power through a small wire causes a fire hazard! Not to mention the Christmas lights…’’, Rob sighs. "Lights and cords that have sometimes been hanging there for years and years; imagine what could happen if they get into contact with flammable curtains. That's why our inspections and those of the Fire Department are so important. Consequently, we can provide advice on what can be improved.’’
For example, the waste paper boxes in the hallway are an eyesore for him: "If a cigarette or candle falls on top of this waste, the suffering would be incalculable. And the laundry racks in the corridors; fold them up when you're not using them! Even better, of course, is not to have a laundry rack in the hallway at all, as it remains an obstacle. If such a rack falls over in the case of fire, you are immediately disoriented. Then you really can't find the exit anymore..." Rob also realises at the same time that Idealis could do even more in this area: i.e. actively collect paper themselves (as is already happening at the Dijkgraaf and Haarweg complexes), provide protective bins, which are now being discussed, and restore ‘the clotheslines of the past’.

Keep on informing!
Rob realises that safe living, with regularly changing tenants - often moving out of house for the first time - requires ongoing attention. "Inform, inform and be at the complexes regularly," concludes Rob, who, with his colleagues and more helpful prevention tips, can also be found on the Idealis Buddy app.

*De Student Flat Organization (SFO), represents the tenants in the student complexes of Idealis in Wageningen and Ede. Most Idealis complexes have their own building representative. All these representatives together form the SFO.   

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