Student Housing- Know your rights!
Housing in Maastricht is not an easy topic for students, especially not for international ones. Since the University of Maastricht wants to create a very international environment, a lot of students studying in Maastricht are from different countries. For example I am from a small town in Germany and when I first started looking for a room or a studio, my jaw dropped when I saw the prices- and the deposit and agency fees I had to pay. Maastricht is an expensive city- but do I really have to pay that much money? I hope these following tips will be helpful with any housing issue you might encounter.
1) Pictures are misleading! Be careful when renting something over the internet without looking at it yourself. My mom and I went all over Maastricht and saw some rooms that were completely different from the description online. However, there are a lot of facebook groups you should look at, they have a lot of offers there.
2) Visiting apartments, have a checklist of all possible questions regarding your future living situation. Is Wifi included? How many people live in your house? With how many do you have to share the bathroom and the kitchen?
3) Your deposit can be 1 or 2 months rent, but not higher! If your landlord wants to charge you more, that is not allowed and it should make you suspicious.
4) When moving in, always take pictures of the place so you can claim your deposit back. Getting your deposit back is not as easy as it sounds. A lot of students have trouble getting it back or are made responsible for damages that were there before you moved in. So the best thing always is to take pictures before moving in, and before moving out.
5) If you have issues with your landlord or your agency, send them a registered letter. A registered letter is a letter that is signed by your landlord that he/she received it and can be used in front of court, it is complete evidence that you informed your landlord about an issue. E-mails are a grey zone, they are not always regarded as being received in court, so if you want to go sure your landlord got your message, you should send them a registered letter.
6) Read your contract carefully and understand what you sign. I know this sounds self-explanatory, but a lot of students just sign the contract and then when they get into trouble, they realize too late that their signature is an agreement to all terms of the contract. Even the best lawyer cannot help you then anymore.
Where to go if you have problems with housing? Where to go to get legal advice and help? I would recommend you to go to the Student Service Center or go to het jurische loket, where they offer free advice to students on legal issues.
Do you have any advice or experience you want to share? Feel free to comment below!