Maastricht room shortages appear less severe than last year

‘Container homes’ Randwyck and locations outside Maastricht have to prevent a repeat of the housing crisis

25-08-2022 · News

MAASTRICHT. The new student accommodation in Randwyck and Sittard will be sufficient to prevent a new room shortage crisis next month, Maurice Evers, head of Maastricht Housing, expects. A repetition of last year, when many students were without housing well into the academic year, seems to have been averted.

Last January, there were still great concerns: the UM expected a shortage of about 700 rooms in September. Evers now reckons that such a scenario is no longer realistic. The increase of the number of students appears to be less than forecasted. “Looking at the number of registrations, there even seems to be a slight decline. But these are not hard and fast figures. That is why we are basing our calculations on an average increase of the student population, in which case an extra 485 rooms will be needed.”

According to Evers, this need can be met, partly due to the arrival of new ‘container homes’ in Randwyck and student accommodation in the former DSM head office in Sittard. A considerable amount of effort has been put into these initiatives over the past few months, when in January it turned out that – just like last year – real estate developers could only ‘add’ a considerably smaller number of homes than the calculated annual 485 units in its housing programme.

Competition from Eindhoven

The housing units in Randwyck were built by a property developer on waste land belonging to the UM, alongside the already existing 250 student rooms on the Oeslingerbaan. Of the planned 600 homes, 200 to 300 will be available for occupancy by September, the rest will follow before the end of November. This while, due to amongst others personnel shortages in the construction industry and the time-consuming permit applications, building couldn’t commence until June. “A great operation by the developer, with a lot of support by the municipality. At the same time, it is unfortunate that some students will have to bridge a gap of a few months. That’s tough, because many student hotels are full at the moment.”

Of the planned 220 housing units in the former DSM office building in Sittard, one hundred have been been made available to tenants so far. About 40 to 50 UM students have meanwhile found their way to Sittard, which according to Evers, suggests that the distance isn’t discouraging them. “The railway station is one hundred metres away and the train takes you to Maastricht in fifteen minutes. Moreover, there are very few rooms to be found in Maastricht with such a price-quality ratio (from approximately 550 euros per month, including gas, water and electricity, for furnished studios from 20 m², ed.).” They even appear to be popular among students who study in Eindhoven, as they are already renting some of the other rooms. “Although the UM supports the project, the letting agent does not set any requirement as to where one studies. For the 120 rooms to still become available it is first come, first served.”

Surprised by shortage

Evers does not believe, however, that the additional accommodation will ensure that everything will run smoothly. “The beginning of the academic year is always a busy period. Not all graduates have left their rooms, while many newcomers are searching for a place to live. Normally, this problem solves itself fairly quickly. We think that last year’s situation will not be repeated. We expect all students to have found a place by the end of October.”

Last year, the university was taken by surprise when the great shortage of rooms manifested itself. Does the UM have a good picture of the situation this year? “Of course, we don’t have a crystal ball. But we do see that the situation is really different: last year, there were already hardly any rooms to be found by April, now this only happened in August. That is comparable to the years before Covid.”

Better overview

The UM has also learned from last year. The message ‘Start looking on time’ was more clearly communicated to new students this time. “Last year, we were criticised by students for not having prepared them properly for the shortage on the housing market. They had a point. The clearer communication seems to have been effective: students signed up with Maastricht Housing much sooner than in other years.”

In addition, Evers now has a better overview of the number of students looking for a room. The UM actually took over the student initiative SOS Maastricht (now called Couchsurfing Maastricht), a platform where people offer a temporary place for students to sleep in their home. “As far as supply is concerned, we most likely won’t be overrun, but because of this we do see the need, and so we know how many students have not found a room yet.”

Landlady/landlord pilot

In addition to the extra rooms, there is also a pilot running this summer in Maastricht, of renting a room in someone’s home, run by Hospi Housing, an initiative from Utrecht, which has already housed more than 200 students. “They expect that in Maastricht, this could be a solution for about a hundred students,” says Maurice Evers. “There appears to be sufficient interest from students, but the question is to what extent people from Maastricht are open to the initiative. The pilot will be evaluated in three weeks to see if it should be continued.”

Photo: Joey Roberts

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: student housing,housing crisis,room shortage,studenthousing,randwyck,sittard,students,instagram

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