MAASTRICHT. #MaastrichtHousingCrisis, reads the piece of paper in a student’s hand. In front of the Student Services Centre on Wednesday afternoon, she is surrounded by a handful of likeminded students from Romania, Italy and India. The call for a quiet protest about the lack of decent rooms was spread via Facebook. But is it really that hard to find accommodation in Maastricht?
Alberto Lugli, a student at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, started the initiative with a fellow student. He is still homeless, and is staying temporarily at a friend’s place. “We made a poll and discovered that in the past week more than 200 people were in the same situation. If you want to find a proper room, in 99 percent of cases you need to come to Maastricht for a viewing, but as a foreigner it’s not easy to travel back and forth every time.” His remark is echoed by several reactions on the Facebook page. What’s more, even if you are able to attend a viewing, it’s usually up to the landlord whether you’ll become the lucky tenant or not.
Romanian Dan Stef is staying with a friend in The Hague, driving to Maastricht and back three times a week. He had bad luck: having started house-hunting months ago, he found an apartment he ended up not being able to stay in (a housemate had problems with his smoking). The next apartment, he says, was in an attic, very small and dusty, and not in the condition promised by the letting agency Jules Maastricht. He is still waiting to get his deposit and one month’s worth of rent back.
The students criticise the many agencies demanding absurd prices for a “crappy room”. They are disappointed, too, when they register on sites like Maastricht Housing but get no reaction from a landlord when they express interest in a particular property.
Maurice Evers, managing director of Student & Staff Housing at Maastricht University, is surprised about the ‘supposed crisis’. “At the beginning of every academic year we hear about a number of homeless students. Usually the problem is solved a month later. But I do understand the uncertainty. Some students get the green light to study in Maastricht on such short notice that it’s hard to find a good room in time. Others don’t arrange anything and just hope for the best, and then it doesn’t work out.” According to the figures, Evers says, 390 extra rooms became available this year, including 270 in the new Student Hotel, 80 on the regular market and 40 Guesthouse rooms. “The university accepted about 300 or 400 additional students, so you’d think the extra rooms should cover that.”