BBB senator asked questions on rent law for housing lobby group


A senator for the farmers’ party BBB asked questions in parliament on behalf of a landlords’ lobby group about a proposed law that would restrict rental incomes.

Eric Kemperman admitted he had tabled dozens of questions that were drafted by Vastgoed Belang, an organisation for private landlords, but denied he had been paid by the group.

“I have had a lot of support from Vastgoed Belang’s lawyers,” Kemperman told NRC.

He added that he had passed on the questions to the ministry without adding comments or making alterations. “I read them and I think: my goodness, that’s a good one, that’s clever. I’d never have thought of it myself, but it’s true,” he said.

The close links between Kemperman and Vastgoed Belang surfaced a day before senators are due to debate a law proposed by caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge to make rents more affordable.

The law would extend the “points system” that sets maximum rent levels based on the type and quality of facilities in low-rent housing to cover the mid-rental sector. If passed by the senate it would be enacted by the housing minister in the new government, which is expected to be Kemperman’s party colleague, Mona Keijzer.

Personal portfolio

Kemperman, who has a small portfolio of properties in Ede, Gelderland, said he had a personal interest as an investor. “That’s not forbidden, as long as you are transparent about it, and I am,” he said. “But it means that I experience in the flesh what these various laws do.”

But De Jonge said the close relationship between Kemperman and the lobby group potentially conflicted with the senator’s job of asking questions on behalf of voters.

“Asking parliamentary questions is an important instrument that is reserved to the upper and lower houses,” he said. “It has to be handled with care. Using it to serve the interests of a lobby club for real estate practitioners is clearly inappropriate.”

Article 50 of the Dutch constitution states that MPs and senators are required to make and scrutinise laws on behalf of “all residents of the Netherlands”.

A housing ministry spokesman told NRC that Kemperman had been asked to clarify his relationship with the lobby group after he passed on its questions.

“The ministry advised Mr Kemperman after receiving the first set of questions that it was evident from details in the documents that the questions had been compiled by Vastgoed Belang,” the spokesman said. “It was clear from the second set of questions that these had also been proposed by Vastgoed Belang.”

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