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ARTICLE: Chilling Temperatures in ‘The Pine’ as Thermometer Needles Drop

While the year is coming to an end, and the temperature continues to drop outside, tenants of ‘The Pine’ – student- and guest researcher living accommodations provided by Örebro University – are also facing temperature challenges within the building itself. For the last few weeks, the lack of means for tenants to regulate the temperature internally has led several students to resort to alternative means of staying warm.

One of the affected tenants, who has been vocal about the issue states that she started noticing the issue in the middle of September, as the weather started to change.

‘I started noticing it when waking up in the morning and I had to put on more clothes during the day to stay inside and it’s not comfortable anymore.’

How is the issue currently affecting you?

‘An example can be that I literally want to go hang out somewhere else, for example in the library even if I don’t have to study, because it’s hard to stay inside (read: The Pine). It’s not comfortable anymore to live in these kinds of conditions.’

She follows up on this comment:

‘I was in the Baltics last week, and the weather is exactly the same. It was cold. It was humid. And I was okay with staying inside. I came back on Monday (October 23). I woke up on Tuesday and I had a sore throat and runny nose. One night here. So, it’s really affecting me.’

How do you feel about the response from the Housing Office and their handling of the situation?

‘At first, I was disappointed that they required us to take pictures of thermometers as proof, because so many people complained about it. But obviously they needed proof.’

Referring to an email sent by the Housing Office on October 17, she continues:

‘And also the excuse that you can find this season a little cold and humid. It’s not an excuse to say to people ‘you can find this season a little bit colder and humid.’ And as I said, I’m from the Baltics. The weather is the same.’

She is not the only tenant who has been severely affected by the issue. A WhatsApp group, created at the beginning of the semester for tenants of The Pine to exchange information about current events, has students discussing the temperature problems. A discussion that features images of thermometers displaying temperatures down to 17 degrees Celsius.

On Friday morning, October 27, several tenants woke up to thermometers showing below 17 degrees, with some students claiming temperatures down to 16 degrees.

While some tenants have resorted to wearing a jacket inside or staying under cover of their blankets, others are suggesting alternative means of staying warm until the problem has been resolved. Some of these suggestions include turning on the heater in the bathroom towel rack and leaving the bathroom door open, trying to insulate windows as much as possible, and buying an electric heater. Other students have even gone so far as to block their air vent with clothes, to prevent it from blowing cold air, and turning on their oven to heat their apartment.

Another tenant, who has also chosen to remain anonymous, elaborates on the issue:

‘Last week, around Wednesday (October 18), I left The Pine for a week, so I wasn’t here. And before that it wasn’t a big issue. It was around 19 degrees, which could be warmer, but it was okay. When I came back Tuesday (October 24), my thermometer showed 17.9, and since then it just got worse. Since then it’s 17 degrees again. I don’t know if the heating system started working, as mentioned in the email or if it’s just that I’m here kind of heating up the room and using the oven and everything.’

How do you feel about the way the Housing Office has handled the situation?

‘I know they don’t have any direct access to do anything, so I’m totally fine with that. I mean, they communicated with us, and we received an email about two days ago about the issue, that it was a mechanical failure somewhere, and they solved it, so now it starts to work. So, I think the Housing Office responded well.’

Although issues started becoming apparent to some tenants last month, the Housing Office explained that the problem was first made explicit on the 20th of October.

‘On 20/10, Housing Office received an email with a picture showing a temperature of 18.2 degrees in an apartment. We then contacted the landlord LG Söderberg, who dealt with the problem immediately.’

When asked why situations like these necessitate proof of temperature the Housing Office responded with the following statement:

‘All people are different and experience cold in different ways. Therefore, all landlords require that it is the actual temperature that determines any action. This is ensured by a measurement with a thermometer.’

Furthermore, the Housing Office assures us that they have taken the issue very seriously.

‘Housing Office has responded to all incoming emails in the case and forwarded fault reports to the landlord. We also made sure to send out an information email to all tenants at Studentgatan 34 when we have had any information in the matter.’

On the matter of the many creative solutions utilized by students, the answer was brief:

‘The other options that you mention, I can understand that you feel compelled to resort to, but of course you are not meant to.’

Instead, The Housing Office encourages tenants to wear warmer clothes and sleep with an extra blanket if they feel cold.

Shortly before noon on Friday, October 27, tenants received an email from the Housing Office. It was revealed that a mechanical fault had caused a blockage in the Pine’s heating pipe. The landlord assured the Housing Office that the issue has been fixed. However, due to the material and low age of the building, tenants were expected to wait a few days for the heat to return to normal.

Despite these assurances, temperatures were still outside the acceptable ranges of many tenants, on Thursday, November 2, and on Friday, November 3, fifty-five tenants came together to write a collective email to the Housing Office, to show that the temperature issues were not isolated to a few individuals and to call for more immediate action. The Housing Office has provided electrical heaters to severely affected tenants and all complaints have been forwarded to the landlord. Both the Housing Office and landlord, LG Söderberg, regret any inconvenience caused by the issue.

The Pine features 140 flats, of which 124 are single occupant apartments, in sizes 25-32 sqm. It was opened on 1 November of 2022. The majority of the building’s current tenants are exchange students from all over the world. While tenants sublet their rooms from Örebro University, the landlord LG Söderberg is in charge of building temperature, and as such the Housing Office acts as intermediary between tenants and landlord.

During the last week, temperatures in The Pine have increased. By the time that this article is published, the matter should be resolved.

Reporter: Mathias Glarman

Photographer: Simon Franssén

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