The Hague’s housing chief calls for a brake on expat numbers


The Hague’s housing chief is calling for new rules which would require companies to provide housing for their international workers before they move to the city, the NRC reported this week.

“Expats are forcing up prices and making housing unaffordable,” Martijn Balster is quoted as saying, echoing similar sentiments expressed in Amsterdam.

The Hague, the paper said, wants fewer expats, international students and labour migrants to move to The Hague. In addition, companies should be required to guarantee that accommodation has been arranged for those who do move, before they arrive.

The council estimates 20,000 what it calls “expats” and 50,000 “labour migrants” live in The Hague, although only 30,000 are officially registered.

“It should not be the case that there is nowhere for people who grew up in the city to live, thanks to the unlimited stream of expats and labour migrants,” Balster said.

Pending legislation which will extend rent controls to cover more property will put 15,000 and 25,000 homes back into the affordable rental sector, he said, and the council will be able to intervene and issue fines if landlords break the rules.

The city’s housing chief also co-authored a report for the Labour party’s academic institute earlier this year which focused on the impact of labour migration on the city’s housing provision.

“Owner occupied housing in expensive neighbourhoods is increasingly going to capital-rich expats or landlords who prefer to rent them out furnished to international workers,” the report said. “In rich parts of the city, more English and French is spoken than Dutch.”

While highly qualified workers strengthen the economy and fit The Hague’s international profile… “the large percentage of expats are pressuring social cohesion”.

Tax rules

“Beneficial tax rules mean they don’t pay much tax and their high level of mobility means they don’t take the trouble to learn the language. The ordinary Hague homeseeker cannot squeeze into the market for temporary, furnished homes and short-stay provisions.”

Dutch News has asked Martijn Balster if it is official council policy to discourage international workers and students from moving to The Hague but has not yet received a response.

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