Thursday 23 March 2017

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More tenants struggle to pay their bills, half at-risk households in trouble


More tenants in rent controlled property are getting into financial difficulty as rents continue to rise, the Netherlands environmental assessment agency said on Tuesday in a new report. In 2012, 37% of high-risk tenants were at risk of having problems paying their bills over the previous three year period, but this had risen to almost 55% by 2015, the agency said. The increase is to the increasing in low income households, coupled with rising rents and housing costs. Young adults and the self-employed are most at risk. Tenants organisations say that rents in the social housing sector should be cut by 10% to help people make ends meet.   More >

Banks overcharge for paying off mortgages

Housing Thousands of homeowners are being unfairly penalised by their banks for paying off their mortgages, according to the financial watchdog AFM. European rules state that the charge for repaying a mortgage before the agreed term must not exceed the amount the bank stands to lose in interest payments. But a study by the AFM found that banks were miscalculating the charge when borrowers switched to another lender or paid off the loan. It followed an investigation by the consumer affairs programme Radar which found that 12,000 customers represented by a claims organisation had been overcharged by an average of €3,000. The banks now face having to spend millions refunding the excess charges. The AFM submitted 12 test mortgage files to a number of banks and asked them to calculate how much the lenders would have to pay to be released from their mortgages. It did not say which banks were involved or how much they would have charged. The homeowners' association Vereniging Eigen Huis said that charges were incorrectly applied in the majority of cases. Any refunds will date back to July 14 last year, when the new rules came into force.  More >

Property tax rules still widely flouted

Housing While local council taxes for property owners are rising on average in line with government limits, 40% of town and city councils have increased taxes by more than 2%, according to home owners lobby group VEH. The average rise across the country is 1.88%, just within the government limit, the VEH says. The sharpest rise is in the Limburg local authority area of Beesel, where home owners face a 21% rise in property tax (ozb). The increase is around 15% in Eindhoven and Hilvarenbeek. By contrast, in Wageningen property tax actually fell 10%. 'Our research shows that people consider property taxes to be reasonable but people are not happy if they are used to plug gaps in budgets,' said VEH director Rob Mulder in a statement. 'Tenants should also have to pay towards the services which everyone benefits from. That is why we want the next cabinet to introduce a more equitable system.' In total, local councils aim to bring in €3.9bn through property taxes this year, a rise of 2.5% on 2016, national statistics office CBS said. The bulk of the increase comes from taxes on business premises such as offices and shops. The four big cities on Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht account for over a quarter of the total.  More >