217 additional rooms almost ready, 90 to follow later
MAASTRICHT. The shortage of rooms in Maastricht appears to be less than it was around the same time last year, says Maurice Evers, department head of Student Housing, “but we are not out of the woods yet”. The 217 additional rooms at the Annadal complex on the Brouwersweg, which will be handed over on 1 September, have almost all been rented out. Another ninety extra rooms are in the pipeline.
How different the situation was in 2017. Then there were students who were still looking for suitable accommodation in November and December. Reason enough for Maastricht University to put substantial pressure on the city council to expand the availability of student housing for 2018. It was announced last May that there would be 217 additional rooms - the UM is the university with the largest number of rooms on offer (more than 900 beds) under their own management in the Netherlands - created in the former nurses’ flat and the adjoining building. The renovation of these flats has almost been completed, renting is in the hands of the UM Guesthouse. There will most likely be another ninety rooms added to that number in September. The owners of the Annadal complex, All-in Real Estate from Amsterdam, will rent these out themselves.
“There is always a shortage of accommodation at the beginning of the academic year,” says Evers, “but that usually dissolves in September/October when senior students leave after graduating”. Whether this will also happen this year, “we will only know in October when the market settles”.
“Private landlords say that they are at least as busy as last year, but at Maastricht Housing, the official mediator for the UM, we notice that the pressure is not as great but still high.” At Stayokay, the hostel on the Maasboulevard, it is just as busy as last year, an employee stated when asked. The Student Hotel has been fully booked since August (a total of 242 rooms), last year this was already the case at the beginning of July.
Traditionally student accommodation shortages are a lot worse in cities such as Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden and Rotterdam. There are also great shortages in Wageningen, where a temporary campsite has been set up. Real estate firm Savills estimates that the total shortage of student accommodation in the Netherlands, as recently published by the NRC Handelsblad newspaper, is 38 thousand rooms. Amsterdam takes the lead with a shortage of 10,500 rooms.
The online letting platform 'Kamernet' calculated that the rent for a student room in the Netherlands has risen by an average of 4.68 per cent, from 385 euro in 2017 to 403 in 2018. It’s only in Maastricht and Leeuwarden that prices have dropped. In the Limburg capital students pay an average of 2.67 per cent less, rents having dropped from 360 euro to 351. The reason? Evers: “It is possible that the Housing Helpdesk plays a role here. It is a kind of watchdog on the rooms letting market. They are approached annually by about two hundred tenants who complain about rents being too high.”
Evers is also familiar with the stories about swindlers placing fake advertisement for student accommodation in an attempt to extort money, especially from uninformed foreign students (they may ask for a deposit of one month's rent for accommodation that doesn't exist). “Students are swindled everywhere, here too. The extent is unknown but it doesn't appear to be widespread. At Maastricht Housing there have only been two reported cases in the past five years.”