Housing corporation bosses rent out property on the side

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Several housing corporation executives are involved in renting out private homes for profit on the side, often charging high prices for properties, current affairs show Nieuwsuur reported on Thursday evening.

Housing corporations focus on providing social and affordable homes and have a key role in housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s plans to boost the supply of cheaper rental property.

While renting out property is not illegal, it could conflict with the sector’s code of conduct, which warns about the risks of conflict of interest, Nieuwsuur said. The code does not mention private property specifically.

Some executives in the survey were renting out property in districts their organisations had helped renovate. Others bought property from developers they had worked with on a professional basis. One person, the researchers found, had 33 rental homes on their private books.

Six supervisory board members have since resigned after being questioned by Nieuwsuur and NOS journalists. The managers of two other corporations have said they will now sell their property.

Housing corporation association Aedes has also written to its members, warning that the code of conduct is now being tightened up.

In the 2010s, the housing corporation sector was hit by a string of scandals and an official inquiry concluded some bosses acted as ‘sun kings’ who refused to take any responsibility for their actions.

The scandals include that of Rotterdam housing corporation Woonbron, which lost €230m when it bought the former ocean liner SS Rotterdam to turn into a hotel and conference centre,

Amsterdam-based Rochdale ending up demanding millions of euros back from its former boss, and Zuid-Holland corporation Vestia almost went bankrupt after speculating on the stock exchange.

Cheap housing

Housing corporations were first set up in the mid-19th century to provide cheap, good housing to the poor without making a profit. The movement took off at the beginning of the last century and corporations were set up by a wide variety of church, political and union groups.

Today, the Netherlands has some 500 or so housing corporations which rent out, maintain and manage 2.4 million homes – over one-third of the country’s housing stock.

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