No complete stop to splitting houses for students in Maastricht

Alderman: Fiddling with policies in the meantime would be unwise and complicated

27-05-2021

MAASTRICHT. Quality of life in some streets in Maastricht is so much under pressure that student housing needs to be curbed immediately. This is the view of the Partij Veilig Maastricht and the Socialist Party, who proposed a motion on the subject during the city council meeting on 25 May. The responsible alderman Vivianne Heijnen, however, has no intention to investigate or adapt the policy on splitting houses at this stage.

The reason for this is the growing number of complaints from residents from streets such as the Heerderweg in Wyckerpoort. At the beginning of this year, they sent a pressing letter to the city council because they do not agree with the renting of more rooms in their street. In an article in De Limburger, residents Hein Smedts and Menno Alkema did not refer to the students as the guilty parties, but the investors who are buying up more and more houses and subsequently splitting them up to rent.
However, they are not the only ones in Maastricht becoming agitated. Residents from the Mockstraat in Scharn, the Hertogsingel and in Wyck have similar stories, said CDA council member Mat Brüll during the city council meeting.

Maastricht’s policy on the splitting of houses was introduced in 2016. There was a need for clear rules; under what conditions can one renovate a house and turn it into a building with rooms or independent studios? What are the requirements that should be met? In addition, the city wanted to take action in neighbourhoods where the quality of life was under pressure. The so-called 40-40-40 ruling was introduced: no more than 120 new student rooms may be added to the total in Maastricht each year. Other rules also apply, such as a maximum percentage of student houses in a street (quota) and a ban on clustering (no rows of student houses next to each other). On the other hand, exceptions were made for splitting up and transforming houses for other target groups, such as expats and starters.

Partij Veilig Maastricht’s (PVM) wish that the alderman investigates “as quickly as possible” in which way “an immediate stop to the splitting up of houses” can be introduced, will not be fulfilled. Alderman Heijnen is thinking it should be more like the end of the year, when the evaluation is on the agenda. During the council meeting, she said that she thought fiddling with policies in the meantime would be unwise and complicated. A closer look will be taken at the whole package of measures, she stated, and she doesn’t want to single out one or two things now.

Besides, she is not in favour of a complete ban on house splitting because that would be at the expense of, for example, expats and starters. She emphasises – because she takes “reports from residents seriously” – that the city council will continue to carry out checks, not only “a check in the register whether one or two people live there,” but also checks on location. Also, if a home owner tries to get around the rules and offers accommodation to students while it is meant for starters, then the city will take action.

The motion by the PVM was rejected; a majority of the council followed the advice by Heijnen to discuss the matter during the evaluation of the city’s housing policy.

Another motion, by the Liberale Partij Maastricht, to count not only rooms at this stage, but also large buildings with independent accommodation units for students, in the calculation of street quota, was also rejected.

No complete stop to splitting houses for students in Maastricht
Bicycles in front of a student house