Regulations remain critical in student housing discourse as universities and cities struggle to accommodate growth

AIMG_2759 dorm room with panelists sitting on crates of beer and a student bed formed the stage of the first The Class Regional Session in Amsterdam. Hosted by law firm Loyens & Loeff, student housing providers, the city of Amsterdam, and universities discussed the opportunities in the Dutch student housing market.

Despite a boom in development activity, there is still plenty of opportunity in the market, the panelists agreed. But on how the market should function, the level of agreement was less as the familiar topic of rent regulation made its predictable return to the stage. “Even though the system has been changed to allow more room for investors to make their business plans work, the system itself is still broken, and creates a student housing product that is driven by regulations, not by the demand of students” Charlie MacGregor of The Student Hotel said.

MacGregor made a plea for sustaining regulations and support for the affordable housing corporations, but to open up the market for private investors, not limited by the points system that sets maximum rent levels. Especially the dominance of studios in new projects is driven by rent subsidies that students receive, which is not possible for a similar room with shared facilities, the panel agreed.
Paul Bashir, COO of Round Hill Capital said he has learned to embrace the regulations: “even though they limit your freedom as an investor and developer, returns are very stable”. At the same time AM has moved on from student housing to develop shared “Friends” apartments (named after the TV-show) for young professionals.

Elco van Noort, University of Delft illustrated the growth potential that there still is in student housing by explaining that Delft is actively managing the inflow of international students down, in order to make sure the university can handle their growth. Last year Delft had resort to accommodating their students in Rotterdam and The Hague to meet international student demand. “If we’d really try, we can get a lot more international students” Van Noort said.

Amsterdam is popular among international talent as well, “We are working as hard as we can to accommodate the inflow of international students and professionals, but housing remains a big issue” David van Traa of the City of Amsterdam said. It’s especially these core cities that investors are interested in, said Robert-Jan Foortse (APG) and Horst Lieder (International Campus) – places that are a natural magnet for international talent. 
The event took place on the 21st of June and consisted of two panels with the following speakers:
Panel 1 :How the international competition for talent is reshaping the map of Europe

  • David van Traa – Director of the Expat Centre, City of Amsterdam (talent strategy)
  • Elco van Noort – Head of International Office, Delft University of Technology
  • Robert-Jan Foortse – Head of European Non-Listed Property Investments at APG Asset Management
  • Horst Lieder – CEO of International Campus 

Panel 2: Student Housing – Trends in investment, development and operations

  • Paul Bashir – COO at Round Hill Capital
  • Eva Hekkenberg – Development Manager at AM
  • Joep van Vliet – Senior Research Consultant, CBRE
  • Charlie MacGregor – CEO The Student Hotel
  • Gijsbert Mul – Director Public Affairs & Accommodate DUWO
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