Wednesday 23 August 2017

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Utrecht poised to bring in tough rules on middle sector rents


Utrecht city council is planning to introduce tough new rules for rental properties up to €950 a month, despite the objections of developers and housing market experts, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday. The paper says the city's executive board wants to make sure that the rent for new properties priced at between €710 and €950 a month does not go up by more than inflation for a period of 20 years. Officials say the move is necessary to make sure that the city has enough affordable homes outside the rent-controlled sector and are due to discuss the plans with developers later this week. Amsterdam has already made a similar move. It has agreed that 40% of new homes built within the city’s boundaries must fall under social housing rules, meaning the rent can be no more than €710 a month. A further 40% must target middle income households with rents of around €850 per month or be affordable to middle income home buyers and the remaining 20% may target high earners. Currently in Amsterdam, just 30% of new homes must be social housing and there are no restrictions on the rest. Poor quality Institutional investors organisation IVBN and project developers lobby group Neprom both say they understand why the cities want to ensure more affordable housing is built. But Utrecht's plans in particular 'go so far' that investors will be discouraged from building, a spokesman for Neprom told the Financieele Dagblad. Johan Conijn, a professor at Amsterdam University's school of real estate, told the paper the rules will lead to projects being cancelled and poor quality housing. And Peter Boelhouwer, a professor at Delft University of Technology said: 'You cannot solve the shortage of of affordable housing in a city like Amsterdam in 20 or 30 years. Buildings production is far too slow for that.'  More >

Who came up with 'western cooking only'?

Housing The owner of two apartments at the centre of a media storm last week about 'western cooking only' has told the Volkskrant that she never made this a condition of renting out a flat. Last week, Iraqi expat Maysaa Munaf, was shocked when she inquired about an apartment at Executive Home Rentals and was told tenants who ‘cook for hours using lots of herbs’ need not apply. ‘If you cook the ‘western way’ we can offer you a viewing on Friday,’ the email said. Munaf shared a screenshot of the offending letter on Facebook post titled ‘In today’s episode of ‘Racism is alive and well’. Executive Home Rentals said the clause was a demand made by the owner because the flat is sensitive to spreading smells. But owner Carolien van den Neste told the Volkskrant: ‘We are very shocked and dismayed by the discriminatory words that were used.’ She and her husband agreed with the agency 'that they would look for a tenant with the profile: expat, single/couple, non-smokers, pets subject to negotiation. There were no other demands whatever,’ she told the paper. On Friday EHR’s director Michel Rootring described the term ‘western style of cooking’ as unfortunate, but continued to insist that it was a demand made by the owners and the neighbours. However, the Volkskrant contacted the owners association (VVE) and found no complaints. 'We've never spoken about cooking within the VVE,' a spokesman for the owners told the paper. 'I'm not happy that we are being blamed for this.' Have you faced discrimination in renting a home in the Netherlands? Send your experiences to or leave a comment below.  More >

'Western' food only says housing agency

Housing A housing agency in Amsterdam has said it will only rent out two of its apartments if the tenant cooks ‘western’ food, NOS reports. When Maysaa Munaf, who has been in the Netherlands for a week, inquired about the apartments at Executive Home Rentals she was told tenants who ‘cook for hours using lots of herbs’ need not apply. 'If you cook the 'western way' we can offer you a viewing on Friday,' the email said. Munaf shared screenshot of the offending letter on Facebook post titled ‘In today’s episode of ‘Racism is alive and well’. 'I did not get what I was reading,' she told RTL. 'What is western cooking. Am I only allowed to eat sprouts?' After sending a critical email back to the company, Munaf was told that the company did not mean to be racist, but just wanted to inform her about the situation. It is not clear whether non-Western cooking is a requirement of the agency or the owners of the apartments. Executive Home Rentals director Michel Rootring later told NOS that the apartments are sensitive to smell transfer. The flats are 'not suitable for long sessions of cooking but the word 'western' was an extremely misfortunate choice of worlds,' he said. Earlier this month another Amsterdam housing agency came under fire for trying to rent out a 35 square metre apartment where cooking was banned altogether. My friend moved to Amsterdam and is trying to rent a house. She received this email today. Pls share. #cookingforhourswithherbs — David Poort (@davidpoort) August 10, 2017   More >