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Tenants go to court over extra rent increases for high earners

Thursday 29 March 2012

Four people living in rent-controlled properties in Amsterdam are taking the Dutch state to court over an extra 5% rent increase for high earners, Nos television reports.

Landlords have been given the green light to ask the tax office about their tenants' incomes, to see if they should pay the extra rent. The government hopes the increase will encourage high earners to move into the private sector or buy their own homes.

However, the law has not yet been passed by parliament, and the four tenants say the tax office has no right to tell their landlords if they earn more or less than €43,000.

'The government should be protecting information about my private situation, not throwing it on the street,' Frank Ondunk, one of the four involved, told the Nos.

The case will be heard in The Hague on April 5.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

I fully agree with Mr. Ondunk - the state has no legitimate right to distribute private information, which we have no option but to provide, to anyone who asks for it. It is *not* the job of the state to do the private sectors dirty work for them.
Further, there is no need for this anyway - if a landlord wishes to know a tenants income then let him (or her) ask for proof. Failure to provide evidence of your income could be made a contractual reason for eviction as could earning too much. Yes, there will be a tiny minority who will abuse this and not declare all of their income but this is a price worth paying to prevent greedy, unscrupulous landlords sticking their snouts into our private affairs.

By ark | 29 March 2012 8:37 AM

It's not about wanting to stay in a rent controlled apartment when you earn a large salary. It's about *privacy* and *principles*

By Toby | 29 March 2012 9:15 AM

Great news. Let the expensive court battles and suing begin! This lack of planning and organization - and also most importantly lack of respect for people's privacy rights which is illegal - on the part of the Dutch government is going to be a long expensive process for all of us taxpayers. Well done Dutch voters, you have obviously done the best you can ;) Unfortunately even the best is sometimes (maybe 'often' is a better word) just not good enough!

By Bill | 29 March 2012 9:43 AM

This nonsense is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate the populace, to show them who is the boss. The tax people, the pension funds, and the Social Insurance Bank know all they need to know right now. Your landlord, or Corporatie, doesn't need to know a thing about your finances. The proper things to do are to sue now, and act to prevent further attempts at privacy invasion. I did both in 1985 and later, and won.

By Husserl | 29 March 2012 12:58 PM

It will be enough to revise every tenant every 3-5-10 years, if he/she still qualifies for the apartment and adjust the rent accordingly.
No more permanent renting contract.

By joanna | 29 March 2012 1:00 PM

If, everyone was renting in the social sector we would not be in the financial mess we are in today. Also, if one chooses to rent, financial status, should, be regardless of income, its purely a matter of choice. The problem is, that the majority of people who have purchased their own property's cannot realistically afford the repayments. This, Dutch, 'sub-prime-failure', is about to unravel any time soon. As for privacy, there does not appear to be any constraints in The Netherlands these days. The attached is worth a read.
Key Privacy Concerns In Netherlands 2007

By Highlander | 29 March 2012 1:19 PM

I dont think the tax office will provide the exact amount of money that the tenant is earning. The only information that will be provided is if the tenant is earning more or less than 43000. After all the rent controlled apartment is supposed to be only for the poor and not the rich. It should be the prerogative of the tenant to prove his income his less. If he cannot prove that then the landlord has no option but to get this information from the tax office.

This is a price everybody has to pay because a few people misuse the system.

By nl_critic | 29 March 2012 1:52 PM

I agree with @ark. In the U.S. if you are in government subsidized housing, then you are required to prove your income and your rent is based on your income. I thought this was the way it was handled already. Sad to say that it is not already the landlord's responsibility to get that kind of information. It would sure not be fair that someone making a better income would still be paying the same rent as one who has a smaller income.

By Pam | 29 March 2012 2:11 PM

If you receive the benefit you should be required to provide proof you qualify, no? Maybe the method is a little strange, and could use a little improvement, but this is pragmatic Netherlands.
Maybe there should be punishment or fines for people who commit fraud.

By Baffle | 29 March 2012 2:52 PM

Great idea, these properties are suppose to help people in need not provide extra cash for the wealthy to go out to dinner with. If things like this aren't brought to order then society will collapse

By Phil | 29 March 2012 3:13 PM

So once again while we expats are all paying for housing in the private sector (no arugments if we're above the "threshold" but there are plenty of non-Dutch who don't earn that and are forced into private housing because their parents could not put them on a waiting list for social housing when they were BORN! The whole idea low income housing is just that: LOW INCOME. That these individuals find their rights violated because they are now earning too much just proves what kind of people they are--only out for themselves and to try and screw the system as much as they can. I say let the woningbouw ask all tenants for proof of income (and do it yearly)

By Michael K | 29 March 2012 4:25 PM

If it's government subsidized low-income housing, the tenants should have to show proof of income yearly to still be eligible to be able to rent the properties. If their income goes up, then unfortunately they'd have to move....they don't get 'grandfathered' in. It's the only way to do it fairly. "Low Income Housing" means precisely that: for low income dwellers. The landlord should ask for state-stamped proof of income as a requirement for rental.

By Susan | 29 March 2012 4:44 PM

Quite agree with Michael K. The system as it is is ridiculous, allowing far too many good earners living in cheap property.

By Uschi | 29 March 2012 4:53 PM

To be clear: I am happy to pay more rent, no problem at all. I am not happy to have my privacy rights violated, and laws broken by the government body which makes these laws.
I do not live in an apartment owned by a woningbouw union. My landlord is private and she has just informed me that she is happy with the rent I pay now and there will be no big increase. She is just as unhappy with this NL government as I am - maybe more. She is Dutch.
There are plenty of ways to find legal cheap apartments here but you need to innovate and think outside that good old square 'box' of how things work!

By Bill | 29 March 2012 4:56 PM

It's about time something was done about the fraud many Dutch people are committing by remaining in social housing once they no longer qualify for it due to making too much money... while the poor who actually need it are on waiting lists!

Shame on Mr. Ondunk and the others involved. Everyone abusing the social housing system needs to be made accountable. Period.

By Sharon | 29 March 2012 5:05 PM

Would that not be against the data protection act and human rights? I find it totally disgusting, this really is big brother!

By AndyT | 29 March 2012 6:59 PM

One tiny point. How can we be sure that once empty, the cheap rental flats won't be renovated and either sold-off for a large amount of cash, or rented for a lot of cash? The latter happened in my protected senior's flat in Amsterdam.

By Husserl | 29 March 2012 9:02 PM

Social housing is meant for low income people. People with a high income who live in social housing, should not live there in the first place. THAT is the principle that matters most (or should be). More than 4 individual's so called invasion of privacy anyhow.

By Martin | 30 March 2012 12:17 AM

@ Bill re "cheap legal appartments in Amsterdam". I'd be very interested in any information you can provide on this matter. Amsterdam is not cheap to live in so maybe our definitions of "cheap" are different? Living in a shoebox isn't exactly my idea of a flat even though many Dutch seem fine with it.

By Michael K | 30 March 2012 9:44 AM

@bill.. What kinds of ways can you find cheaper rent? I would be interested in an article about that actually.

By Kevin | 30 March 2012 10:10 AM

My partner lived in social housing. When we moved in together we only stayed long enough to find another place that was not social housing. This is as it should be.

Unfortunately, too many Dutch people think they are entitled and are fraudulent. While they are complaining about a 5% increase, I think they should pay full fair market value, and that much of that should go to the tax coffers that subsidized it for so many years. Although I agree that privacy should not be violated, the tax office should be able to control this if done properly, and it need not be any more of an invasion of privacy than what is already done when submitting tax forms.

By Quest | 30 March 2012 10:32 AM

People are so busy criticizing the system, other people and anything else they can - that they waste energy they could use to simply search and find an affordable legal place. I put up over 800 notices when I was looking for my cheap place. It took me a solid year of constantly asking, looking, being patient, not impulsively buying something, not taking some offers, etc.
It was NOT easy, it was painful and required a lot of patience. It also required innovation in my search methods. Think outside the box.

By Bill | 30 March 2012 10:34 AM

Here's a clue: these ridiculously long housing 'lists' that Dutch people think are THE only way to get a low rent place are completely the wrong place to look ;)
Innovate, be creative! Look for socially minded landlords who already own their building for a long time (so that its all paid for), and be ready to renovate in a very big way. I had to install flooring, bathroom and kitchen fixtures, lights, walls, the works. Plus my landlady ONLY speaks Dutch, so if you do not then of course, no deal. Use your brain!

By Bill | 30 March 2012 1:51 PM

Government intervention - seems a bit ironic to proclaim entitlement to low income housing and a right to a portion of your neighbors hard work (as this is paid with taxes) - while decrying government intrusion into your life. I guess the people giving recipients hand outs should be wearing blind folds while doing it?

By Tom Z | 1 April 2012 12:02 PM

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