Saturday 27 May 2017

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Gas dropped for housing, but most new homes are fitted for it


Despite the fact that gas reserves are running low and there are viable alternative energy sources available, a study by environmental group Natuur & Milieu reveals that 64% of all new housing units are being fitted for gas. The research is based on concrete plans for 150,000 new housing units to be built between 2017 and 2021. Only 12% are certain to be heated by sustainable means of energy, but another 24% will be connected to district heating in which sustainable energy sources vary. 'This is a very undesirable development. While all Dutch housing must be weaned away from gas as a heat source as soon as possible, builders are continuing with gas connections,' said group spokesman Talitha Koek 'It costs an annual €100m to build new gas networks, and they have a lifetime of 40 years. But it is money thrown away if the country has to be heated by other means. It would be better to spend the money on all-electric housing,' Koek said. Under terms of the Paris climate accord, the Netherlands can have only one million home heating connections to gas in 2035. The environmental group reckons there are seven million such connections at present. Last year, Amsterdam city council has published a plan to rid the city of gas-fired cooking and central heating by 2050.  More >

Airbnb campaigns against registration rule

Housing Airbnb is urging its landlords in Amsterdam to protest against the city’s impending registration system, saying it is creating unnecessary red tape. Amsterdam is planning to require everyone renting their home out through any holiday rental platform to register with the city authorities from October 1. The aim is to make sure people are keeping to the maximum 60-day a year rule worked out between the city and Airbnb itself. ‘Various landlords have told us that they consider the registration requirement to be an unnecessary burden and a breach of their privacy,’ Airbnb said. ‘A complicated registration requirement will make it more difficult for landlords to stick to the rules, not more difficult.’ Airbnb has set up an automatic protest system for landlords to fill in and ‘share their positive experiences’ with the council. The organised protest is noteworthy because the company has an agreement with the city on limits to how often locals can rent out their homes. Home owners and private sector tenants with landlord approval can rent their property via Airbnb for a maximum of 60 days and to no more than four people and Airbnb has agreed to remove homes once they reach the 60 day limit. Daft Housing alderman Laurens Ivens said on Twitter that the Airbnb campaign against the registration system is ‘daft’. ‘It’s good if everyone sticks to the rules,’ he said. Ivens later told the NRC that the aim of the registration requirement is to ‘stop landlords placing their housing on other sides and competing with Airbnb.’ Airbnb’s call to arms has not put pressure on the relationship between the company and council, he said. ‘We have a business agreement, not a love relationship,’ he said. ‘The deal we struck remains in place. It is in their interest to have as few rules as possible but in the city’s interest to regulate properly.’ The council would not be challenging Airbnb about the campaign, he said. Maffe oproep @Airbnb tot actie tegen meldplicht vakantieverhuur. Juist goed als iedereen zich aan regels houdt! — Laurens Ivens (@LaurensIvens) May 23, 2017   More >

Foreign students ripped off by landlords

Foreign students ripped off by landlords over temporary contracts Companies which specialise in providing housing for students are breaking the law by forcing them to continue to pay for a room if they leave before the end of the contract, tenants' association Woonbond has told Trouw. Students who come to the Netherlands for a couple of months – some 31,000 this year – can get a room straight away but the contract obliges them to pay full wack if they leave before their time is up. Woonbond, supported by student organisations, thinks the situation is unfair on the students and is preparing to take the landlords to court. The law stipulates that temporary contracts can be terminated early, the Woonbond claims, and says landlords are breaking the law. Student housing umbrella group Kences says the short-stay contracts offered students are not ideal but that they have no other option. It argues that housing providers have agreed with universities and colleges that foreign students have a room the moment they arrive. If a student leaves early, the room cannot be rented to someone else because it needs to be available for the next batch of foreign students, Kences says. Rooms not homes The organisation also says the contracts are legitimate because students rooms are not independent homes. The Woonbond and the student organisations have urged Kences to come up with creative solutions to the problem. ‘International students are a vulnerable group in the housing market. They don’t know what is and isn’t allowed,’ a Woonbond spokesperson told the paper. But according to Kences director Ardin Mourik, the situation for foreign students may well get worse if they are allowed to stop paying. ‘Providers will no longer be able to guarantee rooms for foreign students and then where will they live?’ the paper quotes Mourik as saying.  More >