Rising demand It's getting tighter on the student housing market in Bonn

Bonn · Compared to last year, the search for flats, halls of residence and shared flats for students in Bonn is currently becoming more difficult again. Fraudsters are also taking advantage of this situation.

 The hall of residence at Kaiserstraße 47, for example, offers space for students. Photo: Studierendenwerk Bonn

The hall of residence at Kaiserstraße 47, for example, offers space for students. Photo: Studierendenwerk Bonn

Foto: Studierendenwerk Bonn

The housing market for students in Bonn is getting tighter again. The Bonn Studierendenwerk, which manages 3,700 dormitory places, reports an occupancy rate of 95 per cent - practically full occupancy. Students "are finding it harder to find flats in Bonn again," notes Robert Anders, spokesperson for the Studierendenwerk. The situation is being exploited by fraudsters who are active on the internet with fake flat advertisements, as the Bonn police have observed.

A look back: In the summer semester of 2020, the situation was comparatively relaxed for many students who actually wanted to move to Bonn because of the switch to online teaching and travel restrictions. But already in the winter semester, an uncomfortable normality set in again. "At the beginning of the winter semester, some students again reported that they had been waiting for a room for quite some time," summed up Lena Engel, then spokesperson for the Bonn General Student Committee (Asta).

The summer semester of 2021 brought some relief again. Some student shared flats even had difficulties finding new flatmates. The explanation was the realisation that some first-semester students had not moved to Bonn in the first place because of online teaching, and that higher semesters had left the place of study earlier. Engel analysed: "Exemplary reasons we know of are the greater freedom of movement and closeness to nature outside the city, which was appreciated during the pandemic, but also saving on rent and living costs." In addition, fewer international students came to Bonn.

The Corona pandemic has not changed anything about prices. Students in Bonn pay an average of 495 Euro for a model flat and 293 Euro for a room in a shared flat. A model flat is a 30-square-metre flat with normal furnishings near the university. With a rent of 802 Euro for a model flat, Munich is the most expensive place to study in Germany.

Long waiting lists for hall of residence places in Bonn

Shortly before the start of the 2021/22 winter semester, the race for student housing reaches its peak - as it does at the beginning of every winter semester. Robert Anders from the Studierendenwerk Bonn reports that the demand for dormitory places has "increased significantly" and that there are long waiting lists. In short, the situation is tense. He notes a "higher presence on campus" and the return of international students. The travel conditions for Italians and Spaniards, for example, have largely normalised, but this does not (yet) apply to students from Asia and the USA. Priorities have changed from the perspective of potential tenants, Anders has observed. The demand for flats has increased. The prospect of shared kitchens and bathrooms seems less enticing to many prospective tenants. In the end, however, what counts is the thought: "Thank God I have a room at all!“

The new Asta spokesperson Johanna Münzel has also noticed an intensifying competition for available living space. In the short term, she says, it has increased in intensity because the University of Bonn - later than the University of Cologne, for comparison - has decided on a mix of 60 percent face-to-face teaching and 40 percent online study for the winter semester 2021/22. Münzel advises studying what is on offer on relevant platforms and advertisements in the General-Anzeiger, registering on a waiting list for dormitory places, as well as looking at the "Wohnen für Hilfe" project. The Asta also offers housing advice: Details at www.asta-bonn.de.

Anders advocates expanding the supply of affordable housing. According to Anders, 73 percent of the places offered by the Studierendenwerk cost less than 300 Euro a month. In the new building at the corner of Kaiserstraße 47 and Nassestraße, however, the price is 400 Euro. No wonder, after all, 6.8 million Euro have been invested here. The spokesperson for the student union would like to see the state of North Rhine-Westphalia take on more of an obligation to renovate buildings from the 1970s and to make new buildings possible. He said it was a matter of adding "a few hundred places" in Bonn: "The state would have to get more involved here.“

More fraudsters active on the internet

According to the Bonn police, criminals have discovered the student housing market for themselves: "Currently, more and more fraudsters are active in the housing market on the internet. The criminals are trying to get their victims' money or identity documents through fake flat advertisements. The case of a 20-year-old woman from Bonn, for example, who became aware of a property ad at the beginning of October, is on record. The supposed owner of a flat for rent, who claimed to live in Finland, demanded a fee in advance for a flat to be booked through an agency. The 20-year-old - without becoming suspicious - transferred an amount to a bank account in Spain. She waited in vain for a reply.

Second case: An 18-year-old woman from Bonn was looking for a room in a shared flat on an internet platform. She was asked by the supposed landlady to transfer a deposit within 48 hours - without having seen the flat beforehand. She was also asked to send a copy of her identity card. The 18-year-old expressed doubts about the procedure, after which the alleged landlady could no longer be contacted.

In recent weeks, more and more cases of this kind have been reported to the Bonn police. The police recommend not to transfer money before viewing a flat - especially not to a foreign bank account. Caution is advised if the advertised flat is offered at a particularly favourable price. It also happens that fraudsters offer real properties. Data and pictures are copied from the internet beforehand. In many cases, contact with the supposed owners is only made by e-mail or via a chat programme, and usually in English. Anyone who has already sent copies of identity documents should report the matter immediately.

Original text: Dietmar Kanthak

Translation: Mareike Graepel

Neueste Artikel
Zum Thema
Aus dem Ressort