Friday 10 July 2020

Senate steps up pressure on Ollongren to impose rent freeze


Interior minister Kajsa Ollongren has put herself on a collision course with the senate after refusing to impose a rent freeze during the coronavirus crisis.

A majority of senators backed a motion by Socialist Party member Tiny Kox calling on the minister to block the annual rent rise in July. Ollongren called the measure ‘disproportionate’ and said a bill going through parliament enabling landlords to cut rents temporarily would give tenants better protection.

Major landlords such as housing corporations usually increase rents in July by an average of 2.5%. This year one in 10 corporations has delayed the raise, according to a survey by the Financieele Dagblad, but most private and institutional landlords plan to increase rents.

The minister said only around 0.5% to 2% of tenants were struggling to pay the rent during the coronavirus crisis. ‘I’ve asked all landlords to be flexible. If you can’t come to an arrangement with your landlord, you can apply to the rental commission,’ she said.

Kox accused Ollongren of ignoring the will of parliament by not agreeing to freeze rents. ‘A minister who doesn’t acknowledge that hundreds of thousands of people are in difficulty is creating problems for herself,’ he said.

The issue is likely to be raised again when the senate sits again on Tuesday, Kox said. ‘It will be a less pleasant conversation if the minister doesn’t do as the House wishes. She is shutting the door. It’s incomprehensible.’

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