Amsterdam gets tough on single glazing in rental housing

Sub-standard windows are the norm in many listed buildings Photo:

Single glazing should be seen as an official defect in rental houses – regardless of their listed status – according to Amsterdam city council.

The city says that it has lobbied the national government, together with The Hague, Utrecht, Eindhoven and Groningen, to make single glazing a legal defect “because it is completely outdated,” and that means tenants could face lower rents.

A lower court earlier this year ruled an Amsterdam landlord was obliged to put double glazing in a home without increasing the rent because it was necessary to update a 1665 building – and he had planning permission to do so.

However, in a series of official questions, VVD councillors Myron von Gerhardt and Stijn Nissen suggested that owners of listed buildings still have difficulty with bureaucracy if they want to put in double glazing. A motion passed by the council in 2022 to make it possible to install special “monumental” glass without planning permission is still not in force, they said.

Around 100,000 Amsterdam homes are believed to have single glazing. After 22-year-old Seb Waterreus fell through an old, single pane to his death in 2021, many Amsterdammers have campaigned for improvements, claiming that the situation is unsafe.

The city’s listed building chief Alexander Scholtes acknowledged on Tuesday that there is room for improvement. “The planning permission process could be more efficient,” he wrote in answer to the councillors’ questions.

“In line with the national assessment framework for making listed buildings more sustainable, we will make window insulation permit-free, in combination with a set of required standards…And where permits apply, we will optimise the process to allow bulk submissions.”

However, Dutch News is aware of examples in which officials refused planning permission for double glazed windows due to size differences of millimetres. A Dutch News analysis of information from a Freedom of Information request in 2021 suggested one in eight requests for double glazing that year was refused or abandoned.

A spokesman from the housing ministry told Dutch News that from January 1, 2029, all rental homes with a low energy label (E, F and G) will be required to upgrade to a label D. “This will apply to all rentals,” he said.

New government legislation will take energy efficiency into account when deciding maximum rents for some properties.

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