The current maximum fine for breaking social housing rules is over €20,000 but that is not high enough to really deter fraudsters, the minister said in her briefing.
In addition, the minister is planning to give local councils the power to both set up an official register for holiday rentals and introduce a compulsory licencing system. People caught renting out their properties for longer than the period permitted by their local authority will face fines of up to €83,000.
The minister also plans to make committing housing fraud an economic crime which can be dealt with by the courts. Earlier this month, Amsterdam housing alderman Laurens Ivens called on the government to make illegal subletting an economic crime.
In February the Financieele Dagblad reported that between 10% and 20% of rent controlled properties owned by big housing corporations in Amsterdam may be illegally sublet.
The scale of the fraud is adding to the pressure on the city’s housing stock, where just 3% of corporation housing is freed up for new tenants every year. The waiting list for a rent controlled property, with a rent of less than €720 a month, is now 14 years.
Hester van Buren, director of the Rochdale housing corporation, told DutchNews.nl that people should be suspicious that they are being offered an illegal sublet if they are told they cannot register officially at the address.
‘You can always ask the neighbours if the property is owned by a housing corporation,’ she said. ‘If it is, and you are not paying rent directly to the corporation, you are also in an illegal situation.’
Tenants with concerns about their housing situation can approach the Woon foundation, which advises tenants on their rights and has a special section for internationals.
The draft legislation has now been sent out to consultation and will be finalised in April.
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