“You can live in the building” the contractor says, yet 500 students are out on the streets

Gates in front of the Muse Einstein Campus last Monday, two days after students were supposed to move in

“You can live in the building” the contractor says, yet 500 students are out on the streets

Tremendous lack of clarity about delayed completion of student complex

10-01-2024 · News

MAASTRICHT. The completion of the Muse Einstein Campus in Randwyck, where more than five hundred students were to have moved in as of 6 January, has been delayed for an undetermined period of time due to technical problems. While the construction company has given the go-ahead, other parties involved are digging their heels in. Lack of clarity, everywhere. Students are the victims; a few dozen are considering taking legal steps. In the meantime, UM fears there will be a rooms shortage.

The Muse Einstein complex with 506 studios – at the location of the former post office on the Duboisdomein – was supposed to have been completed back in September. Due to delays in construction, the expected opening date was pushed forward several times and ultimately to the beginning of January. However, on 21 December management company Nido Living sent an e-mail to intended inhabitants with the message that they could not move in for the time being, after all. The reason: inconvenience due to water in the concrete slabs.

It meant that more than five hundred students - all studios were rented by then – had to find an alternative at the last minute. For those “who were in dire need,” such as international students who had to vacate their former accommodation and could not ‘just’ go home to their parents’ house, Nido is offering temporary accommodation in holiday park Dormio since this weekend, a Nido spokesperson said. “At the moment, 68 students are making use of that. Some others have terminated the contract free of charge, which was another option. We have also been in contact with the remaining students and everyone seems to have found a (temporary) solution.”

The temporary accommodation at the holiday park is available until 2 February. Nido does not have a solution ready as yet for students who end up on the streets after that. This while students have heard that the situation could last for months. “We don’t know where we stand either,” the spokesperson said. “We are waiting on estimations from the contractor, the situation in the building is being investigated. We hope to hear this month when the students can move in.”

As far as construction company Hurks is concerned, the homes are ready for habitation now. “The students can move in immediately tomorrow,” director Cees van der Meijs said by telephone. “Nido’s personnel is already working there. It is certainly not damp in the building. We have carried out several investigations and sent the results to the customer, ECM Development.”

ECM Development is, just like management company Nido, a subsidiary of the Dutch branch of the British investor Round Hill Capital. The latter was – a day before Nido sent the e-mail to inhabitants – declared bankrupt by the courts in Amsterdam on 20 December as per their own request. “A strange coincidence,” comments Van der Meijs from construction company Hurks, to whom it is also a mystery. “We only have contact with ECM Development via the bankruptcy trustee, who is not saying anything about the situation either.” The Nido spokesperson denies that this is all about legal finagling. “The delayed completion is purely due to technical problems. The building has not yet reached a state of completion and has not yet been handed over to Nido according to the standards we set."

Legal action

In the meantime, many students are without accommodation. According to Nido, arranging temporary shelter is “a gesture of goodwill”, since the situation would be a case of force majeure. The students, however, refer to the signed tenancy agreement. A few dozen are considering taking legal action, as appears from a WhatsApp group in which more than 260 duped students have come together. One of them, law student Beyza Akça, has hired a lawyer who sent a registered letter to Nido last Monday. It contains a demand for fulfilment of the tenancy agreement: staying in the holiday park is after all a temporary measure and without one’s own facilities.

Rooms shortage

In view of the influx of new students in February, Maastricht University also fears a dire situation. “If the complex is not open at the beginning of February, that will put extra pressure on the market,” says Maurice Evers, head of Maastricht Housing. There will be a rooms shortage threat, while UM has no alternatives. “The Guesthouse is fully booked, and the university does not own any other buildings. We ourselves, as well as the city authorities, see no options for temporary shelter locations in Maastricht. A tent camp is practically impossible in the winter. We do want to take responsibility, but we are dependent on external parties.” 

In a meeting of the city council on Tuesday evening, Volt’s local fraction, having previously submitted written questions, called upon the city council to ensure that those students who are victims “should in no circumstances run the risk of ending up on the streets”. In addition, Volt council member Mart den Heijer brought up the matter of a “questionable deal with a company with a questionable structure,” of which it is unclear what their plans are with the building. “What about permits? Can the building be sold on to a new company that does not want to house students?” This was not answered during the meeting: alderman Pas (housing and student city portfolio) was not present.

Photo: Joey Roberts

Categories: News, news_top
Tags: nido,student housing,muse einstein campus,hurks,room shortage,students,instagram

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