Housing chiefs in the biggest Dutch cities have again called on caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge to get tough on the extortionate rents being charged for tiny flats.
De Jonge is due to publish his finalised legislation for extending rent controls to cover most of the country’s housing stock in the coming weeks and although much will depend on the next government, the cities say action needs to be taken urgently.
The point system for determining rents covers most, but not all, rental housing and this means landlords can charge what they like for property in the “free” sector. Some people are paying €2,200 or €2,300 to share a chicken coop,” Amsterdam’s housing chief Reinier van Dantzig told Trouw on Wednesday.
“Families who earn too much for social housing and can’t afford to buy can’t get a foot in the door,” said Utrecht’s housing boss Dennis de Vries. “This includes police officers, teachers and all the people that you need in a city.”
Private landlords say that they will not earn a sufficient return on their investment if rent controls are further extended and there are some signs that they are starting to sell up. Rental property platform Pararius said earlier this month said some 8% of properties currently up for sale used to be rentals.
Nevertheless, housing minister De Jonge said in answer to MPs’ questions this week that investors sold 22,309 properties last year, and which is around 10,000 fewer than in 2022.
If landlords do start selling their properties, this will be good news for people wanting to buy, De Vries said. It could be that the homes are bought by people with even more disposable income, but “the legislation does not solve everything,” he said. “It is just a piece in the puzzle.”
In Amsterdam, 23% of the city’s rental housing falls outside rent controls and “this can be reduced,” Van Dantzig said.
One of the main problems deterring developers is the lack of certainty about what will happen, Van Dantzig said. “So we are asking parliament to give clarity and pass this legislation,” he told Trouw.
Support in parliament
As yet is is unclear if there is sufficient support for the measure in the new look parliament. The VVD and BBB are both opposed to tighter rent controls and the NSC’s Pieter Omtzigt has also expressed his doubts in the past.
Parliament’s home affairs committee is due to debate the plans to increase regulation of the rental sector on Wednesday afternoon.
De Jonge said earlier he hoped the new legislation, which will cover 90% of the rental market, will come into effect in July. He expects the impact will be to cut the rent of hundreds of thousands of homes by an average of €190 a month, although the change will only affect new tenants.
Other legislation that requires cities to set up a public register where they can report landlords charging too high rents, discriminating or charging too much in service costs, came into effect on January 1.
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