Utrecht: report shows shutting out landlords helps homebuyers

The proportion of first-time buyers in Utrecht’s housing market has doubled in the last decade in what the city council says is a vindication of its efforts to stop investors buying up property to rent out.

Utrecht was one of the first cities to limit house sales to owner-occupiers for homes costing less than €587,000, under a law that came into force at the start of 2022.

In 2018 landlords bought 13% of all homes on sale in the city, but this proportion shrank to 2% last year. First-time buyers now account for 53% of all purchases, compared to 26% in 2012.

Dennis de Vries, the council executive official responsible for housing, said: “It’s good to see that purchase protection works. It supports our view that housing is not a business model, it’s a fundamental right.”

The council exempted 85 sales from the ban on renting newly bought properties, mostly for people who had bought a house for a relative. Two fines were issued for breaching the ban, which carries a penalty of up to €12,500.

The survey by the land registry Kadaster was also designed to analyse whether the policy should be extended to all houses, but it found that only 25 homes that cost €550,000 or more were bought by investors last year, compared to 423 that went to first-time buyers.

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