Since the end of November, the residents of the 285 units in De Pauwmolen, a block of flats for young people along the A13 close to TU Delft campus, have barely had hot water. This week, an extra heat pump and a water tank were installed which should have eased the problems, but two residents, TU Delft alumnus Sarah and master’s student Nathan told Delta that little or no hot water comes from the taps.
They are sick of it. They say that the problems have been known since March 2022. “At the time the residents, especially those on the top floors, complained about the low water pressure and that the water was getting colder,” says Sarah. “The owner, Plaza, initially ignored their complaints until the end of November when complaints came from almost the entire building.”
In December, Plaza acknowledged the hot water problems in a series of emails to the residents that Delta has seen. The tenants were advised to take shorter showers, up to five minutes a day. But this did not solve the problem. Only when a fellow resident approached the media at the end of December did Plaza take action. The owner placed five emergency showers in the garage and offered to compensate residents. Sarah: “It was a VVV gift token worth EUR 40. And we only got it after the intervention of a lawyer. Plaza stated very clearly in an accompanying letter – seen by Delta – that they were not legally required to give this to us.”
The five emergency showers in the parking garage. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)
Neither Sarah nor Nathan used the emergency showers. Sarah often showers early in the morning in her own studio. “There was often hot water then. Either that or I boiled a pan of water and did what I could.”
Another problem related to the shortage of hot water is that the washing machines do not work either. “There are several washing machines in the building which you can pay to use, but they use hot water. If there is no hot water, you cannot do a wash,” says Sarah.
Nathan adds that “The same goes for washing the dishes. Of course you can boil some water, but that takes a long time and is annoying. Someone in the building bought a dishwasher and offered it to the other residents to use for their crockery and cutlery.”
In a written response to questions by Delta, Plaza says that the problems with the hot water are due to an increase in the number of residents. Since December, instead of one person occupying a studio, two people occupy them.
Nathan and Sarah have their doubts. An acquaintance of Sarah’s, who is a water pump engineer, told her that the 5,000 litre water tank that was originally installed does not have the capacity to supply hot water to 285 housing units every day. “If 60 people shower for 10 minutes, the boiler is empty and it takes a few hours before it is hot again,” she says. “The capacity of the heat pump that heats the water tank also has to be increased. In cold nights, the boilers are not completely filled in the mornings.”
Plaza does not want to show the specifications of either the original heat pump or of the new system. So whether the expansion is enough to meet the hot water needs of the residents now is still uncertain.
What Sarah and Nathan do know is that the new unit, that has been in use since Friday, still does not ensure hot showers. Plaza confirms this in an email to residents. The landlord says that an analysis has shown that between 25 and 35 housing units ‘take large volumes of water’. This is three to 20 times the national average consumption for a two-person household. Plaza cites three possible causes: a broken water meter, a leak, or the high consumption of hot water. The owner will contact these tenants this week to find out the cause.
‘For EUR 1,000 rent you expect a hot water system that works’
Sarah and Nathan are angry that the problem has not yet been solved. They want appropriate compensation. “We pay EUR 1,000 rent every month,” says Nathan. “The least you can expect for that amount is a hot water system that works.” It is wait and see. Plaza responded by email that it will as yet not make any statements about additional compensation. “The residents will be notified in writing about this.”
Sarah hopes to move before the end of spring, but says its hard to find anything on the current housing market. Nathan would like to stay until he finishes his master’s. “I am happy with my studio, but not at all with Plaza.”
- Sarah’s surname is known to the editors. Nathan’s name is feigned because he does not want to jeopardise his rental contract. His full real name is known to Delta.