Living in lodgings: win-win or never being at home

The municipality is encouraging the people of Delft to rent rooms to students in their homes. To VSSD, living in lodgings is not a ‘long term solution’ to the housing crisis.

The Pauwmolen student and youth complex is under construction. It should reduce the room shortage in Delft from late 2021 onwards. (Photo: Marjolein van der Veldt)

Last week, the Municipality of Delft submitted its ‘Nota eindevaluatie studentenhuisvesting in goede banen’ (Memorandum on evaluation of well organised student housing) to the Municipal Council. In the bill, the Mayor and Municipal Executive announced the intention to start a campaign to encourage people to open up their homes to students. The Municipality believes that providing lodgings to students is a win-win situation. There will be more accommodation for students and less loneliness, especially among senior citizens.

Would students be interested in this? The Municipality believes that they would be. The idea, says a spokesperson, even came from a ‘sounding group with student representatives’. In a response, the TU Delft students union VSSD – traditionally a debating partner of the Municipality, Duwo and TU Delft on student housing – says that it does not see lodgings as ‘a long-term solution for the student housing problem’. Instead, ‘having their own place to live is an important part of development for many students. This is very different to permanently staying with people,’ writes Interim Chair Mateusz Glowacki in an email.

Not doing enough 
According to the VSSD, the Municipality is not doing enough to create more student accommodation. “In 2017, Delft was called the best city for student rooms, (in Dutch) but just two years later, it has become the worst city for student rooms (in Dutch). The Municipality can do it, but it is now choosing to further restrict a segment of the housing market to students, just when the widest possible range of student housing is needed,” says Glowacki.

He is referring to the intention, which is also part of the student housing evaluation, to halt the further converting of houses into rooms. Since 2017, Delft home owners wishing to divide a house into three or more non self-contained rooms need to apply for a conversion permit. This is now applicable to houses with a Valuation of Immovable Property Act value of over EUR 265,000. The Municipality wants to extend this to all houses.

TU Delft is expected to continue growing

The VSSD is surprised. “There is already a huge shortage of student housing and TU Delft is expected to continue growing. We do not understand why the Municipality of Delft is opting for cheap solutions such as dividing houses up into rooms impossible.”

Much discussion 
From the start, the conversion permit has generated much discussion in the Municipal Council (in Dutch) and with the VSSD (in Dutch). At the same time, few applications have been received. The Municipality reports that in 2018 and 2019, 12 applications were received of which five were approved. The Municipality of Delft believes that in reality, the number of houses that were converted in this period is higher given that conversions are sometimes done illegally. The Municipality does not have figures for this.

Furthermore, the Mayor and Municipal Executive have plans to extend a new type of permit, one that will stop the division of larger houses into apartments. These apartments are in high demand among students, but also among expats and first time workers, while families are side-lined. The Mayor and Municipal Executive want to stop this in a city that has a shortage of all types of housing.

Housing in Schiedam 
But there are real plans for more student housing. The Municipality of Delft is talking about 2,500 new rooms to be built between now and 2026. They will not all be in Delft, but will be in other places such as Schiedam where 450 units will be assigned to TU Delft students. In Delft itself, construction will be done both in the city and at the TU Delft campus such as on the Balthasar van der Polweg (the plans for which have been delayed for years). Neither the Municipality nor TU Delft wish to cite (in Dutch) exact locations. These plans are related to projects that are currently under construction. These are the Pauwmolen with 143 studios on the Jan de Oudeweg and the Student Hotel with 287 hotel rooms next to the station.

The Mayor and Municipal Executive will discuss its plans in the ‘Eindevaluatie studentenhuisvesting in goede banen’ (in Dutch) with the Municipal Council in October.

Editor in chief Saskia Bonger

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