Village Patrimmonia: Or, “ALWAYS View an Apartment Before Renting!”

Village Patrimmonia,
[Week 63] Village Patrimmonia, “Under Construction.”
It takes a special kind of faith to reserve an apartment in a foreign country via the internet without asking anyone to view the site to confirm it’s real or verify that there are no surprises in the rental offer, and it was exactly this blind faith that lead me to book a room at Village Patrimmonia months prior to my arrival in Brussels. And boy, was it a surprise!

Before you judge me for being a complete idiot newbie at apartment rentals, let me tell you that this particular complex was ULB-recommended­— so recommended was it that we actually received emails from our doctoral program coordinator recommending the place. In addition to this, googling the place only revealed mentions here and there from students on Erasmus (and mostly they were “drunk at VP!!!”) so I thought, hey, it’s newly built and it has ULB as a reference, Erasmus students were drinking as usual, what could go wrong?

A lot went wrong. A lot is going wrong still.

  1. Arrival. I had previously sent the area manager, Laurence, multiple messages for an appointment for the time and day I would be arriving. I was even calling while I was in the taxi (though I only got voice mail). When I arrived at Village Patrimmonia, she was not there and the sign on the locked door clearly stated that office hours were only from Monday to Thursday, and only in the morning. It was 3pm on a Friday afternoon. But I knew I had an appointment so I stood there, ringing the doorbell multiple times like the optimistic fool I am. After half an hour, a lady name Caroline answered my repeated rings and told me Laurence was not there but she would bring me to my room instead.
  2. The Stairs. So I was brought to my room— on the 4th floor of an apartment complex touted as “disabled friendly.” What in the world? Apparently none of the buildings had an elevator either, which led me to ask the question which disabled people exactly Patrimmonia was catering for. I mean just climbing and dragging luggage up eleven flights of stairs is difficult enough for a young, relatively healthy adult!
  3. The Room. The room was not too bad, cozy with a bed against one wall, a tiny closet, study table, and stove and sink. What was bad was the layer of grime on the floor, a mixture of sawdust, small rocks, and some sort of white powder that could’ve been paint, could’ve been asbestos. Who knew. Caroline called someone to have it cleaned up, but it was never cleaned throughout Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, resulting in my maroon suitcase turning a rather disturbing shade of beige. The room was eventually cleaned on Monday morning, after I had repeatedly called Laurence (voice mail), the “24 hour” concierge (no answer!), and left two rather scathing emails.
  4. The reaction to my complaints about the dirt. To my great surprise, as I was at the Village Patrimmonia office on Monday morning to grab a key for Jasmin who was arriving much later in evening (better safe than optimistic), Caroline approached me and was angry that I had complained and “threatened” to stay in a hotel. Excuse me, who had to sleep in a filthy room? Whose luggage was now beige beyond belief? Who couldn’t even use a blanket, for fear it would get filthy? It wasn’t her. The attitude of “it was okay to me!” didn’t help my opinion of Patrimmonia at all. Okay, maybe the cleaning people weren’t in over the weekend and maybe the “24 hour concierge” lost their phone or has otherwise been occupied for three days— those are forgivable. What is unforgivably insulting is them having the audacity to criticize me for complaining for sleeping in filth.
  5. The vomit. The day I arrived there was already days-old vomit on the stairs leading up to my floor. The smell of it is not particularly appealing when “fresh”, so you can imagine just how delightful it was to have the smell of someone’s rancid, milky stomach contents assault your senses every time you go up or down the stairs. Every time. Cleaning at Patrimmonia is supposedly done once a week but English must not be their first language as we have very different definitions of “cleaning” and “once a week”. To be fair though the person who produced said vomit obviously had no sense of responsibility or consideration for their fellow residents, so all in all our stairs are an awful nausea-inducing area that we all get to re-experience daily.

    Screenshot from the website, corrected for reality.
    Screenshot from the website, corrected for reality.
  6. The shit. Toilets that were flushed in the morning were regurgitating their contents in the afternoon. Enough said.
  7. The bloody awful construction noise that never ends. As Village Patrimmonia is apparently being built from the ground up, construction starts in the wee hours of morning and continues throughout the day. And by construction I mean things like hammering, sawing, power drilling— the cacophonic works. Imagine waking up to that every morning at 6 or 7am. Imagine trying to read or study or have a conversation in 80 decibel noise inside your own room. Imagine.
  8. The complete lack of privacy or consideration of. As I mentioned, the windows on our building have no shutters so you can either choose health and fresh air and flash everyone every time you undress or choose privacy, close the window and the shades, and suffocate. There is no ventilation. So lose your sense of propriety or die. Worse though is that it seems as though everyone and their uncle has a key to your room! During my very short stay so far I’ve had electricians, plumbers, heating people, and an IT guy enter my room with little to no warning. A Spanish girl was woken up mid-sleep, bra-less, by two men looming over her. So if you want to experience what it’s like to live in a prison, step right up!
  9. Power and water randomly shut off, and heating is as temperamental as it gets. This says it all. Imagine a whole day without water, without being warned that there would be no water. Imagine.
  10. Pre dial-up internet, and internet censorship, all in one. We pay 60€ a month for “utilities” and yet we can’t get decent internet, water, electricity, or heating. And we have to endure “parental controls”. Thank you, Patrimmonia, really.
  11. Random other charges, fees, penalties— you name it, you’ll pay it. In addition to our already high rent of 495€++ (depending on the size of your room), we also pay monthly extras of 60€ for utilities as well as 25€ for furniture. Some residents are also charged an additional 25€ above all of the extra charges for ‘short contracts’. The concierge also charges 25€ for students who are locked out— a charge that increases to 50€ on the weekends. This is the same “24 hour concierge” I couldn’t reach for an entire weekend so I doubt I’d ever have to pay these fees as I’m still confused as to whether the person exists. Plus you also pay 1€ per gigabyte over the 8 GB limit. Since all of us are international students who live off of Skype to see our families, this stacks up fast.

All in all, Village Patrimmonia can be described simply as lies and deceit. They promised, and I quote, “an inside park organized around various green and rest zones, bicycle and car parking spaces, a library, a fitness, a cinema and a local shop.” There is no park. There is no rest zone. There are no bike parking spaces. There is no library. There is no gym. There is no cinema. There is a local shop though, whew! One truth!

… and yet, despite these imaginary places, we still pay the full “utilities charge” each month! Furthermore, nowhere on their website is mentioned that the entire place is a construction zone nor that there are no elevators. Again, to quote the website, Patrimmonia boasts “Access for Persons with Restricted Mobility (PMR)”. Who are these superhuman PWDs (or PMRs), and can they fly? Because that’s the only way they’re getting in here.

I also realize why I have seen no terrible reviews of this place anywhere online. It’s not because students don’t care about other students, no. It’s because of this pretty little clause in the contract:

The Lessee may not take action against the Lessor for the accidental stoppage or poor functioning for which it is liable of any of the services and devices serving the Property unless it can be established that it was advised thereof and did not take remedial action as soon as possible. The same shall apply to liabilities under articles 1386 and 1721 of the Civil Code.

If the Lessor needs to perform major repairs to the Property or any other repair for which it is responsible in law, the Lessee shall tolerate these works even if they have to last more than forty days and he/she states that he/she waives any right to compensation for nuisance during his/her occupation.

Unfortunately I have yet to sign this contract nor do I intend to unless an appropriate price reduction is given for the duration of the on-going inconveniences and these offending clauses are stricken out. Future ULB/VUB students, be warned.

DSC03369
The walkway to the actual Village Patrimmonia office. I missed it twice the first time I arrived as then it was still melted rubber.
DSC03370
The “walkway” to Building D.
DSC03355
The smell here is simply indescribable.
DSC03384
The workers are extremely kind though, it’s not their fault students are living in the building that they’re in the middle of constructing.
DSC03350
At least I don’t live on the 3rd floor. Live wires, people?
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26 comments

  • Thanks for this information, I was thinking about renting a room there but now… after reading your opinion I’m sure its better to rent in other place.

    • Hi Aloba,

      There are lots of places in Brussels if you want to rent a room, and most for much cheaper (a room in a shared house should cost around 250-400€ utilities included depending on how many are sharing the common areas). There are also many studio-type residences like Village Patrimmonia around the ULB-VUB university area that would go for around 350-500€. And if all else fails, I’m quite sure there are a lot of free rooms in VP!

  • Hi! I was thinking about staying there, but thank god I saw your post! Do you recommend other places (student residences near ULB) to stay?

  • Hi,

    I would like to share my opinion about Village patrimonia and your text.

    As you did, I came in this place as soon as I had booked my apartment and I was also quite disappointed by the mess and the late of the works not finished. (I’m still renting in VP in building D.)

    It wasn’t good looking but I still believe a lot of all problem you mentioned happened against their will and it’s important now to tell the people about what is NOW going on more than what happened at the BEGINING. Therefore I’m not agreeing with some of your points;

    1. The village patrimonia told me they have been working with a company which haven’t respected the terms and condition of their contract. So I personally believe they did as much as they could to finish the works and prepare the rooms for the arrival of the student. But unfortunatly some students came earlier they had to arrive and lot of rooms weren’t ready yet and some others came on time but works weren’t finished because of “the working company carrying to works”, not patrimonia. (Like me I had to change of rooms few time but I was responsible for it, just at the beginning). So fortunately and hopefully we received a compensation on the rent because of problems that happened like electricity, light, hot water and so on.

    2. In my opinion the vomit on the wall you mentioned is definitely not from Patrimonia but from students that can’t drink Belgium beer..
    What if now VP (village patrimonia) have to clean up everyday mess of the student? Student wouldn’t care messing around. They came (cleaner) I think once a week and that should be enough.. We should have told the students to be careful.

    3. It has been mention on the description there was no lift in the building. Means that people who want to rent a appartement are warned, and pitty for the girls having huge baggages.

    4. I agree the noize when I arrived was awful and couldn’t support it during the day and early in the morning!
    BUT it is important to say: There is no more works and no more noize.
    Now I even find it too quiet..

    So all in all, I’m personaly not facing anymore noize or problems in VP except maybe the fire alarm that appeared once or twice in 5 months.

    So if you are looking for an accommodation near ULB I would recommend it to you . As I said above, a lot of problems happened in the past regarding to the end of the works that were delayed because of a shitty company carrying the works. Many and the majority of the problems came from there. Unlucky a lot of student had to support it.

    I thinks it’s important to inform the new students of it, even if you were angry with them about your stay and experience.

    Do not hesite to contact me if you have any questions about the place.

    • Dear Arnaud,

      Thank you for your comments. Certainly I agree that continuous updates are necessary for others to know the situation at the residence (please note the date on this blog entry, October 4, 2014). I’m in in the process of catching up with long-overdue posts and have two or three updates on the evolving VP situation in line— there’s a lot more to be said, both good and bad.

      I completely agree that many things were beyond the control of the immediate VP management (construction for instance, and indeed students who vomit), but that does not excuse inaction. Rent reductions were only given when students got together and DEMANDED them, electing representatives, bringing in officials from ULB, as well as bringing it up with the local residents’ union. Things like respect should not have to be demanded, and specially not by students living in an accommodation that is supposed to take care of them.

      I also agree that students who cannot handle alcohol are responsible for their vomit, no argument there. Indeed if one must throw up it’s better to do it outdoors rather than in stairwells, where it would affect other residents. The person who threw up should have cleaned it themselves. That said, when I and other residents criticize cleanliness it is not just not cleaning up the vomit, but the “weekly” cleaning that never happened, causing a build up of construction dust in each hallway; the scary garbage room situation; and now the mosquito population that has evolved in the pools of stagnant water.

      There are many problems ‘out of VP’s hands’: noise levels, drunk students screaming in the courtyard, drunk (?) students having loud sex through paper-thin walls, cigarette smoke entering rooms, badly sorted trash, cooking smells infiltrating rooms from lack of ventilation… I don’t know if this is exactly a ‘plus’, but indeed these cannot be blamed on management. That said, there are many things that can be done about these issues, VP is not the first student residence to deal with drunk, horny, chain-smoking teenagers.

      Regarding the ‘too quiet’ problem, don’t worry, construction will start again soon. This quiet period was scheduled for the exam period, and once that’s over, hello heavy machinery. You’re in D Building though so it should be okay… friends who are still in A have not fared so well.

      There are some saving graces you know, the concierge’s wife is one of the kindest women I have met in Brussels and the workers are always friendly and willing to lend a hand, and there’s always some other resident smiling and waving from across the courtyard, but these are secondary aspects. There are other primary needs such as (1.) is the accommodation built, (2.) is there a continuous supply of water, electricity, air, and internet, (3.) is there mutual respect and honest communication between owner and tenant.

      For VP, unfortunately, many things have gone wrong and if Facebook messages are to believed, are going wrong still.

      Thank you for your perspective though, it’s good to know not all of us suffered. Potential new residents should aim to live in Buildings D and E.

    • Hello Arnaud!

      I am going to live in Brussels from September till January and I was thinking to stay in VP but afer reading all these I am dissapointed. Anyway, can you give me some more information about the rooms and especially the Internet and the bathroom. In which buildind were you living? I was thinking the building B. Is it good?

      Thank you in advance.

      • Hi “theuncoolboy”,

        Thanks for your comment, I actually live in the building D but I know the other rooms because I have friends in the other building too.

        The rooms in every building are quite small but it’s not too bad, you have space for one person and its cosy.. Single bed, bathroom with a shower, toilet and lavabo just what I need.

        The building B is quite nice because you have the view of the court but for some people living in B it’s a problem because of their door looks like a window with only a blind. Kinda privacy problem..
        I would advice you to send a mail to VP to ask about rooms if you want a bigger room they have choices from other buildings like in A or D.

        Concerning the internet, it was a bit slow at the beginning but then I asked for more GB and it was better. Now they changed with a new system internet from another operator and I do no have any problems since they changed it..

        Have a good day,

        Arnaud

      • Hi “theuncoolboy”,

        Thanks for your comment, I actually live in the building D but I know the other rooms because I have friends in the other building too.

        The rooms in every building are quite small but it’s not too bad, you have space for one person and its cosy.. Single bed, bathroom with a shower, toilet and lavabo just what I need.

        The building B is quite nice because you have the view of the court but for some people living in B it’s a problem because of their door looks like a window with only a blind. Kinda privacy problem..
        I would advice you to send a mail to VP to ask about rooms if you want a bigger room they have choices from other buildings like in A or D.

        Concerning the internet, it was a bit slow at the beginning but then I asked for more GB and it was better. Now they changed with a new system internet from another operator and I do no have any problems since they changed it..

        Have a good day,

        Arnaud

  • Hi !

    I was interesting in VP, but your post made me hesitate. Do you think I could visit the Village in August before renting a room ?

    Thanks for your reply,

    Nedjma

    • Hi, Nedjma!

      Yes, I am sure they can organize a viewing if you drop by in August (just make sure to email and schedule an appointment). Otherwise, I can link you with people currently there and you can take a look at their rooms and talk to the current residents yourself. 🙂

  • I’m thinking of moving into the new building ready for september because there are no rooms left in building E, but again this has made me hesitate especially seeing as how late some of the previous work was completed. If I don’t choose VP I have a room reserved at casa la cantus, could any of you tell me anything about that accommodation?

    • Hi Joe! VP has improved a lot since I moved in last October, though I am told construction continues and that recently residents’ rooms were entered without their permission again to install some hardware (a recurrent privacy issue that doesn’t seem to change). I would suggest joining the VP Facebook group (I see you already sent a request, I am an admin) so you can ask the current residents about the situation. I would also recommend a site visit, just look at both places and choose the one that feels most home-y.

      Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything either good or bad about Casa la Cantus, but if you can’t find anyone who has been from there try contacting the ULB/VUB student accommodations people and ask for feedback. They would be happy to help.

  • Hi !

    A friend and I from France are considering renting a room in building D, and this page was of great help considering the lack of info or even photos from the websites.

    I figured out it’s a little better now, but I’d like to know more about the current situation. If you could send me a link to any page I could get in touch with current residents. That would be really appreciated !

    Thank you in advance !

    PS: Is the parental control on the internet a real thing ? With adult students ? WTF

    • Hello!

      Yes, parental controls on the internet is a real thing. And yes, we are all adults in the residence, some older than others (MA/PhD students)! It’s really quite shocking that they go so far as to police our morals.

      The official Facebook group is this one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/651736878258865/

      Some current residents have uploaded new photos as well as video of the construction noise so you can see for yourself. I would say that things have improved, but the rates have also been increased (like +25 EUR for internet, the slow, censored internet) so it kind of balances out.

  • Hello Kate!

    Thank YOU for this information!

    I will be going to Brussels for an internship starting October and don’t really have time to visit the place. They offered me a room in a NEW building (F) and I was wondering if you know how the situation is over there right now..

    If this place is not recommended, can you please send me links of other residences around Brussels? (Kindly note that I prefer living alone rather than sharing a room with someone)

    I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

    • Hi, Nar!

      Last I’ve heard (as of yesterday, when I was with some soon-to-leave-VP-residents), the construction is still on-going and they have not only stopped giving rent reductions to the affected residents, but even increased the rent (!). When I was there earlier this year Building F was not yet active, so if you do move in there I guess one of the benefits is that you’ll be one of the first to use it. One of the disadvantages is that you get to be the guinea pig for whatever is wrong with the construction… as we experienced in Building A. Building F is a bit separated from the main area so I have the impression that unless they are still doing construction in your building, you should be insulated from the worst of it. 🙂 And your building SHOULD have an elevator so that’s great, the question of course is whether it is functional.

      • Thanks Kate!

        I just sent a request to join the facebook group, perhaps i could ask for more info from current residents 🙂

  • Hello

    Even though my experience is not as dramatic as yours I still have a lot of complains.
    I’m living in Village Patrimmonia for almost a month and the first thing i also noticed when i came was that there were no elevators. What about the disabled??
    Another thing is that when I came in and signed the contract no one ever showed me where the wash room is NOT EVEN THE CONCIERGE.
    The same day they brought me to my room and gave me two magnetic cards but took one back cause it was not working and said they would bring it back as soon as possible. So i was left with one card. One day around 9pm I head out but i forget my card in the room. Luckily i found a guy who led me to the concierge because i had no idea where it was cause they never showed me.
    I explain to the wolman that i have only one card and that it is not fair to pay because if I HAD my second card (my card was beign “fixed” for about 3 weeks) i would not lose 50euros (yes you pay 50 euros so they can open your door after 7pm). She tells me that i have to say that to the office which is open monday to friday from 9:30am to 12:30 am!!! I am going to university and these hours are never free for me. Plus they amount of time the office is open is ridiculously small.
    The next day i enter my room and my new card is on the table. Ok first someone just entered my room like that PRIVACY HELLO? Second how is it possible that my card was fixed JUST the day after i got locked out and complained to the concierge about the money? She surely told the office that I wanted to get my money back so instead they got in my room while I was gone and left my new card so i wouldnt go to the office and complain.
    So i decide to send an email telling them what happened and that if i had my card that would never happen. I begged them and politely asked them if it was possible to get my money back. The answer? “It is a paying service either you have one or two cards”. Just that. It is not enough that i already pay 500 euros per month.
    And last one, as I said before they never showed me the washing rooms. So i find them and it says you have to pay 2 euros per wash (rediculous amount as i said i already pay them 500per month). So i say ok 2euros. I put 1 euro in but the rest of my coins are 50cents and 2 euros so i proceed to put two 50cents and they wont go in. And i realized it only takes 1 euro. So again i lost 1 euro because of them not explaining anything to me at all and i didnt wash my clothes.

    These are my experiences and thoughts and i cant wait for my contraxt to expire so i can leave this awfully organized place

  • Hey
    is it possible to get the contact of Laurance? I need to write an e-mail and the “acceuil” is out for some weeks.
    Thanks a lot

  • Hi Kate! so before taking a decision I decided to make a last minute research and boy was I surprised to see that this place that seemed so tranquil last Saturday morning when I went to visit is actually so messy!
    Still, right now I’m living in a colocation with roommates from hell who use the flat as if it’s only theirs (frequent past midnight gatherings on school days when my room is right besides the living room, bringing people home for several days and even weeks when the bedrooms doors have NO locks, beer bottles accumulating for months, etc etc)
    So after reading your post I’m still debating on choosing the less of two evils…. I’d greaaatly appreciate it if you could clear some of my doubts please
    My biggest worry is the internet limit since I skype with my parents almost on a daily basis, is it still working with the 8GB limit AND with the parental control thing?
    Also reading some of the comments I’m a bit lost on one thing… is there like a curfew on weekdays or ever weekends? because it would be horrible to not be able to go out to the city center because of that.
    Considering it’s been a long time since your initial post I’m guessing the works (and the noise) have concluded…?
    I was planning on renting a room with a private bathroom in Building B ground 0 on their website they put the price as 410 euros out of charges which is way below the usual market price.
    I also sent a request to join the fb group 🙂
    CHEERS!

    • Hi, Alexia! I just approved all pending requests to the FB group, I hope you were one of them!

      VP is quieter now as it’s at half-occupancy (due to the past problems, you can imagine how bad it was) and the construction is over I believe. Note that it can get noisy when drunk people take over the courtyard or have a room party. The FB page would give you more details of how it is at the moment: some blackouts, hot water issues, but nothing ‘major’.

      The internet parental controls have not been lifted, I’m sorry to say. You can find workarounds but it is was very frustrating— my PhD research is on sexual health and rights and my own internet connection refused to show me journal articles! The internet limit is also in the contract but to my knowledge few people have paid.

      B0 is great for not hauling stuff up stairs every time but I’d recommend always locking the bolt lock and installing some good curtains. The glass door faces the courtyard.

  • Hi Kate,
    I´m thinking about renting a room at VP from september to january. Is it still like the first comment you have post? Any other recommendation about other residences?
    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Antonio, I hear it has much improved in the year since I moved out. I often catch up with some friends who live there and their only complaints are the noise (loud parties, thin walls) and the internet (still apparently slow even though they supposedly upgraded to a fiber optic network). The area is actually full of student housing, Rue de l’Eté and Rue César-Franck for instance house at least three residences each. You can also look at U-Residence and Campus Irena (formerly Eckelmans), both very highly recommended but almost always booked out, to see your other options.

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