The coronavirus crisis and the student housing market in Maastricht
MAASTRICHT. The UM Guesthouse is currently half empty. “About 450 students have left early. Some of them even left behind all their belongings”, says Maurice Evers, head of department at Maastricht Housing. As of this week, students at the Guesthouse who decided to stay despite the coronavirus crisis and students who decided to leave early will be given the option of extending their stay for a maximum of twelve months so that they can complete their degree or exchange.
The UM Guesthouse has ten different locations that can accommodate a maximum of 930 students in total. It’s not the only student accommodation provider that is currently struggling to fill rooms. All short-stay providers in the Netherlands – like The Student Hotel, Xior and SSH Student Housing – are facing the same problem, says Maurice Evers. However, he doesn’t see much difference in the demand for long-stay accommodation (longer than twelve months) compared with last year. “The amount of long-stay accommodation on offer at housing associations and in private housing is similar to previous years around this time.” Many students have moved back in with their parents for the time being, but continue to pay rent so they will be able to return to Maastricht as soon as possible.
Evers doesn’t think that students are less interested in coming to Maastricht in September. They do seem slightly more reluctant to book accommodation because of the uncertainties surrounding commuting and the type of education UM will offer next semester. Face-to-face teaching would require students to actually be in Maastricht, whereas online teaching wouldn’t.
Despite everything, new room reservations are trickling in, says Evers. Students who book a room at the Guesthouse can cancel their booking for free up to one month before their arrival. They are more likely to book a room because of this policy. “It’s very low risk for them, even if they end up deciding not to come or won’t be able to come after all.” As of this week, students at the Guesthouse who decided to stay despite the coronavirus crisis and students who decided to leave early will be given the option of extending their stay for a maximum of twelve months so that they can complete their degree or exchange. “Many students are already making use of this option.”