Subdivision of property and conversion to rooms

As a social city, Maastricht is a great place to live. Maastricht is increasingly becoming an international university city as well. It is characterized by different residents with different interests and lifestyles. These differences can sometimes cause friction.

The municipality is committed to providing all residents – from locals to newcomers to students – with sufficient high-quality housing. Subdividing and converting existing properties can contribute to this.

New implementation rules

The board drafted a new set of implementation rules on 18 April 2017, which entered into effect on 28 April 2017. As a result, a new list (stratenlijst met uitvoeringsregels in Dutch) was developed containing streets that are exempt from the further expansion of room rentals. An experimental distance criterion was added to the list of requirements that a conversion application for room rentals has to meet. Previously, the board had decided to reduce the maximum standards for room rentals per street.

The municipality applied the reduction of these maximum standards and the experimental application of the distance criterion based on the recommendation of board stakeholders.

Current policy: features

The following assessment framework will be used for all new situations (not existing on 21 May 2013):

  • Assessment of property size aimed at maintaining smaller properties
  • Assessment of student housing programme at the city level
  • Assessment of maximum percentage of room rentals per street
  • Assessment of distance criterion (experimental)
  • Assessment of quality requirements

All of the above points will be assessed for new situations. The legalization of existing situations (those existing as of 21 May 2013) will only include an assessment of the quality requirements. The same requirements will apply to applications for new situations starting on the date the council's decision was announced until the subdivision and conversion zoning plan has been drafted (expected in early 2018).

New situations

Applications for new situations will be assessed sequentially based on the following requirements:

Properties smaller than 110 m2 may not be subdivided or converted

The minimum size a property must meet in order to qualify for subdivision or conversion is aimed at maintaining smaller properties. The 110 m2 standard is based on the average home size for a small household (max. 3 people). The standard was determined by the demands of smaller households and the features of existing properties and new properties. Applying the same standard to the entire city will clarify and streamline policy and execution. This standard also addresses quality of life, to a certain extent. The 110 m2 standard will spare many smaller flats from subdivision and conversion.

Maximum number per year

All applications will be assessed against the student housing programme as part of the 2016-2020 Woonprogrammering (residential policy programme), which was adopted by the municipal assembly on 27 September 2016. The student housing programme allows for a limited number of new residential units:

  • 40 units per year as a result of dividing properties into independent units
  • 40 units per year as a result of converting properties into rooms
  • 40 units per year by repurposing non-residential listed buildings. This could involve either independent units or rooms and is known as the ‘40-40-40 regulation’

With effect from 1 July 2017, the maximums for subdivision and conversion in 2017 have been reached. That means that permit applications for new situations that were not demonstrably in our possession on 21 May 2013 will no longer be dealt with. 

For 2018, 40 units will again be available for each of the three categories. Applications may be submitted for this purpose from 9 a.m. on 9 January 2018. Applications will be dealt with in order of arrival.

Applications for the legalisation of pre-existing room letting may still be submitted. However, the applicant must demonstrate that the premises in question were already in use on 21 May 2013 as premises subdivided into several dwellings or as room-based letting premises.

Maximum percentage of room rentals per street

If the minimum standard and the student housing programme allow, an application for converting a property into a room rental will be assessed based on the maximum percentage of room rentals per street. The goal is to prevent heavy concentrations of room rentals. The maximum percentage is divided into three areas, corresponding to the residential environments outlined in the Structural Vision for Maastricht 2030 document:

  • no maximum in the residential city centre
  • 20% in the urban residential area
  • 10% in the residential fringe areas

The percentage per street was calculated based on the total number of room rentals per residential address (both legal and illegal) and the total number of properties in the street. This link was used to determine the overall percentage.

The maximum percentage requirement does not apply to:

  • dividing properties into independent units
  • repurposing properties or buildings into large-scale student housing complexes with more than 25 more or less independent residential units per building

No clustering of room rentals in a street

Applications for converting a building into several rooms will be assessed based on the following requirements:

  • Two properties divided into rental rooms must be separated by at least four properties that do not contain rental rooms. This will be enforced at the street and block level, which means: 1) counting will not continue around the corner at a crossing of two streets – counting is done per street; 2) at a crossing of two streets, the buildings on the other side of the street will not be included in the calculation.
  • For individual properties and/or properties that rent out rooms in a building with six or more residences and/or properties with room rentals, an additional rule applies: two properties that offer room rentals must be divided by at least two other properties.

This distance criterion does not apply to:

  • dividing properties into independent units
  • applications in the residential city centre
  • repurposing properties or buildings into large-scale student housing complexes with more than 25 more or less independent residential units per building

The distance criterion will be implemented on an experimental basis until 31 December 2018.

Quality requirements

Applications will be assessed based on the requirements outlined in the Buildings Decree. Additional requirements include:

  • municipal parking spaces
  • a bicycle parking facility and waste facility must be provided on-site. The municipality will allow for custom solutions, particularly in the residential city centre.

Similar to the handling of new housing applications, the initiator must sign an agreement regarding financial liability to cover any damage resulting from the execution of the plan. This will place the financial risk of a claims request resulting from the devaluation of the surrounding buildings with the initiator of that plan.

Existing situations

The reference date of 21 May 2013 serves as the starting point for existing room rentals (this is the date of the amendment to the subdivision and room rental act).

The period in which the subdivision and conversions for existing situations is legalized is linked to the review date of the zoning plan for subdivision and conversion drafted by the municipal assembly. The preliminary draft was available for review for six weeks, as of 24 February 2017.

During this period, the existing situations were assessed against a specific set of requirements (Building Decree, parking spaces, bicycle parking facilities and waste facilities). After the transition period for existing situations, the requirements were tightened.

This means that building owners who apply for an environmental permit after the review date will also be required to meet the 110 m2 requirement (and a minimum height of 2.1 metres) as part of the minimum living space requirement. Development managers interested in submitting applications for existing situations will have to sign an agreement on financial liability for potential plan claims.