Construction at Bjølsen Studentby began in May 2023.

Construction at Bjølsen Studentby leaves students sleepless

No heat, construction noise, WiFi outages, water cut-offs and more: Residents at Bjølsen Studentby are not happy.


With cold weather moving in, residents of Bjølsen Studentby say they are dissatisfied with conditions at home these days. In May, construction began on nine new Studentsamskipnaden SiO residences here, with additional upgrades to existing elevators across fourteen buildings. Since then, residents complain, everyday life at Bjølsen has been marked by a series of inconveniences which include residents getting locked out of their apartments, being left without heat or water, and cut off from internet access for long periods of time. 

Trust has to be earned, and SiO has already broken it before it was ever formed.

Umeshgaar, one of the residents
at Bjølsen Studentby

“If you are on the lookout for a place to live that is both pleasant and central, Bjølsen Student Village is a good choice,” notes SiO’s website, which goes on to describe how construction on the elevators at Bjølsen will take place in stages, with 2-4 months of work expected per lift. This work, along with the nine new residences being built in the former post office and bicycle room at Moldegata 21, is expected to last through December. The website states that, “The works will cause general construction noise during this period. There will also be periods of what we call particularly noisy work. These will be notified in advance.”

When contacted, SiO responded promptly to say that they are aware of issues at Bjølsen. “I can confirm that we have received several inquiries and complaints from students living in Bjølsen Student Village recently,” says SiO Housing Director Henrik Graarud. “We appreciate the students' clear communication and feedback, and we will address each inquiry.” 

He explains, “Some of the issues are related to the colder weather and the time it takes for indoor temperatures to adjust to this. However, the inquiries are primarily related to the ongoing construction project, where we are converting the old post room and a bicycle parking area at Bjølsen into nine new student residences.”

Construction noise

“I haven't had a single good night's sleep in my room,” says Umeshgaar, who has been subletting here since September. "The construction people start their work at 4 am, and my room is located directly above where they work. So I lie there wide awake until I get super tired and fall asleep, to the point where I've slept through my alarm multiple times and missed lectures. The construction noises have not only affected me academically, but they've also severely affected my quality of life.“

In addition to attending school, Umeshgaar works two jobs and often comes home at 11 pm when his shift is done. “The one thing I look forward to when I get home is a good night's sleep so that I can wake up fresh the next day to go to work or school again. This has been lacking ever since I moved here. I've genuinely been sleeping with noise canceling headphones on some nights, and even that doesn't help.” 

“I am sorry to hear residents have experienced this,” says Henrik at SiO. “We are processing inquiries sent to SiO continuously. If there have been any further deviations beyond what has been reported, we would like to know about them so we can follow up the specific incidents with the contractor.”

“The construction work involves general construction noise,” Henrik acknowledges, “and there will be periods of what we call particularly noisy work. We will continue to provide regular information, and we hope for the residents' understanding.”

Construction noise at Bjølsen is an ongoing issue.

Substandard living conditions

“The living conditions have been pretty bad where I live,” says Parco, who moved to Bjølsen over the summer. He lists the problems he’s encountered: “Internet outage (the internet's been dead since 6 pm and this is the third time this week), lack of heating (I still don't have heating in my room), issues with the water supply. Many people have complained to SiO about this and demanded a reduction in rent, but the problems still remain and the demands for rent reduction have been ignored.”

“SiO did email us about scheduled power outages and cuts to hot water supply,” explains Parco, “but the issues we're experiencing are beyond what they promised. We've had many sudden internet outages, the heating was never supposed to be unavailable, and hot water remained dirty for days after the cut.“

Morale is low; some residents have overnighted at friend’s apartments when they’ve had the option. “I've seen the complaints in the FB group…stealing clothes in the washroom… stealing bikes and bicycles,” says Umeshgaar. Reaching out to add his experience to the list, Zakir adds, “My el sykkel has been stolen from Bjølsen sykkel stand. Can you help me? I am a student here and can't afford one more sykkel.” Group posts reference sudden cuts to electricity, with food wasting inside refrigerators. Internet outages are a recurring motif. Others talk about challenges with getting into their apartments due to locks not working properly. 

Lotfi, another resident at Bjølsen, says he has also struggled with the noise, the outages, and lack of heating and hot water as temperatures drop. But, he says, “I think by far the most egregious issue I experienced was how I didn't have access to my own room because of the locks malfunctioning. This has been happening for a while as well, and even after calling a SiO maintenance person to come and fix it, the issue persisted for weeks afterwards. I feel unheard and disrespected considering all this.”

“Due to the construction works, the power had to be temporarily shut off on the 12th of October from 4 am to 9 am,” explains Henrik at SiO. “Unfortunately, it took longer than planned, and the power was only restored at 1 pm. This had consequences for functions such as hot water, access control on some corridor doors, internet access, and the elevator during those hours, and we apologize for the inconvenience.”

Elevators in 14 buildings at Bjølsen are being replaced.

Internet outages

Access to stable internet is an issue that residents are taking seriously. According to Umeshgaar, “the worst problem here at Bjølsen has been... The Wi-Fi. I've only been living here for barely a month and a half, and I've lost count on how many times I've lost internet connection. It's come to the point I have to be the one in my group to ask them to stay behind at school late at night, to 8-9 pm, to finish our group work, because us doing it online is not reliable from my side. I feel like a handicap to my study group. Last night at 7 pm the internet cut out again and it didn't return until 11-12 am this morning. If I hadn’t met my deadline the day before it was due, I would have been toast.”

Lofti, too, says, “The frequent and severe WiFi outages have disrupted my ability to access online resources, participate in virtual classes, and conduct research. This is particularly detrimental to my education, as many of my courses rely on reliable internet access.”

“Due to the shut off of power,” elaborates Henrik, “the internet was also down from Friday, 13th of October 5:30 pm to Saturday, 14th of October 2:30 pm, which was unfortunate for the students living in Bjølsen Student Village. We encountered an issue with a cable, which resulted in a longer down-time than planned.”

“Nothing has made me want to call this a home,” says Umesghaar about Bjølsen.

Loss of trust

Many residents noted that they feel their complaints have not been listened to by SiO representatives, and that the communication is sparse, evasive, or punts the problem to third party operators. 

“Our scheduled working hours are Monday - Friday at 7 am to 5 pm. If we receive complaints about work outside of these hours, we follow up with the contractor. This has also been done at Bjølsen,” clarifies Henrik. 

Umeshgaar reflects, “I have heard it isn't this bad at some other places under SiO's management. And that's great for them, but with the absolute and genuine lack of care about our complaints, and how they've handled it, I don't know if I can trust them with my problems, regardless of which SiO housing I'm in. Trust has to be earned, and SiO has already broken it before it was ever formed.” 

“SiO loves to use their emails as a shield and tell us that they informed us about the scheduled outages, while ignoring the unscheduled ones,” says Parco. “What infuriates me is knowing that this didn't have to happen. Aside from the elevator maintenance, the construction isn't necessary, it's just SiO building more apartments to increase their profits. We are suffering all thanks to SiO's greed.”

“We will respond to all inquiries from Bjølsen as soon as we can,” assures Henrik at SiO. He adds, “Having a good dialogue with the residents is very important to us, and we use all feedback to improve. The construction is to be completed in December, and we will have an ongoing dialogue with the students if anything changes.”

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