Thursday 20 January 2022

Social housing corporations raise concerns on private developers

A poster in Amsterdam protesting about the sale of social housing
Photo: DutchNews.nl

Social housing corporations have raised concerns about private sector developers who are building social housing apparently without being bound by the same rules.

Social housing umbrella organisation Aedes has warned that such homes may initially qualify as social housing – with a monthly rent of no more than €752 – but claims that the owners can subsequently increase the rent to free market prices.

‘Local councils are increasingly allowing commercial developers to build social housing but there is more to social housing than a maximum rent,’ Aedes chairman Martin van Rijn told broadcaster NOS.

Corporations point out that they also have a legal obligation to house recognised asylum seekers and people with an urgent reason to go to the front of the queue. Commercial landlords, they claim, do not have to abide by these rules.

The housing corporations have also protested about a controversial tax which they say stems from a time when they made large profits, but which they say has forced some to sell off part of their social housing stock and land. They claim that some €12bn in tax that they have paid the government since 2013 would be better spent on maintenance and new social housing.

Local council association VNG said it shared some of their concerns. ‘Market parties stipulate that these homes can be sold or rented out for more money after a period of 15 years, for example,’ a spokesperson said.

Developers

However, developers refuted the criticism. ‘Housing corporations are building fewer houses and that is a worry because they play an important role,’ Jan Fokkema, of developers’ organisation NEPROM told the broadcaster.

‘But to blame investors for this is too easy,’

Fokkema defended developers against another claim that they are building smaller homes for the maximum rent and accused the corporations of not building enough to solve the Netherlands’ acute housing need.

Housing crisis

In February, a consortium of 34 developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations formed a massive alliance to tackle the housing shortage in the Netherlands.

In total, they say that one million new homes need to be built in the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations hope their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Current government strategy involves realising 75,000 new homes a year through new build and converting other buildings.

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