Airbnb report reveals Amsterdam rental levels and effects of new crackdown

Airbnb has for the first time revealed that its landlords hosted 2.5 million overnight stays in Amsterdam in 2017. The landlords had 800,000 visitors, who stayed an average of 3.4 days – almost twice as long as the typical stay in a hotel or guest house that year, the company claims. The numbers are revealed in a report written by consultancy Ecorys and commissioned by Airbnb, and which looks at the impact of three proposals by Amsterdam city government to control spiralling levels of tourism. Ban Yesterday, the city government announced its intention to ban Airbnb rentals entirely in three parts of the city, including the red light district, due to the perceived negative impacts on social cohesion, rising house prices and inequality. Next year, the maximum number of days that private house owners can rent to tourists will be limited to 30 days, from the current 60. Meanwhile, Dutch MPs have proposed treating home rental infringement as a fiscal crime and cracking down on tax evasion. The government aims to create a national registration scheme for private rentals within a year, following concerns about illegal rentals and 'overtourism'. The new Ecorys report, however, points out that Airbnb accommodation – not including other short term rental brokers such as – represents a modest 11.9% of all overnight stays in the Dutch capital. It also claims that its guests are responsible for more than a fifth of the €2.3 billion spent in Amsterdam. New rules limiting private rentals to 30 nights a year will, the report says, result in 310,000 fewer overnight stays while new hotels in the pipeline will add 3.7 million annual overnight stays by 2022. ‘Despite these rules [to control tourism] in the years ahead many more tourists will come to Amsterdam…The number of visitors is expected to grow by about 2.1 million,’ says the report. It also argues that Airbnb apartments are spread over the city more than hotels, which are concentrated in the central areas. ‘Measures aimed at curbing Airbnb-related tourism…will have a limited effect on the total numbers in Amsterdam,’ it adds in its conclusions. ‘But because Airbnb guests spend more on average, the effect on spending will be relatively larger.’ Round table Bernard D’heygere, a spokesman for Airbnb, told the company has written to Amsterdam council to organise a ‘round table’ discussion with other tourist-related organisations, and the business has said it welcomes a registration scheme. A spokesperson for Amsterdam city council said that the figures in the Ecorys report match the amounts Airbnb transfers in tourist tax. ‘We are aware of the invitation from Airbnb for the round table,’ she added. ‘However, I’d like to point out that the city of Amsterdam is already in contact will all kinds of stakeholders in the tourism sector and this topic is a high priority for both the municipal council, mayor and deputy mayors.’ has asked Airbnb for the full dataset behind the new report, and a comment. This article was edited on October 12 to reflect Airbnb's answers to questions.  More >

Less livestock key to cutting manure fraud

The only way to stop farmers committing fraud by dumping more manure on their land than allowed is to reduce the number of cows, pigs and chickens on Dutch farms, according to the public prosecutor in charge of environmental crime. Rob de Rijck told the NRC in an interview that little has improved in the approach towards fraud with manure since the NRC uncovered major problems in Brabant and Limburg in 2017. Plans to set up a nationwide task force have not materialised and both the public prosecution department and product safety authority do not have enough capacity to carry out proper checks, De Rijck said. 'More manure is being produced than the land can cope with,' he said. 'From a criminal law perspective, the only thing that can be done is to reduce the amount of manure. We should have less livestock.' The Netherlands is currently allowed to spread more manure on farmland than in other EU countries but that could change next year when the EU reconsiders the rules. Forgery The NRC found last year that farmers are forging their accounts, illegally trading their manure or dumping more on their land than permitted by law, while transport companies are fiddling lorry weights and making unrecorded trips to dump manure at night. Brabant and Limburg are home to 60% of all pigs, 40% of all chickens and one sixth of all cows in the country which together produce 16.5 billion kilos of manure. Factory farms are subject to strict rules about how much manure they can put on their land. The rest has to be disposed off or traded with other farmers who have not used up their own manure quotas. But disposal costs money and some farmers are unwilling to spend the cash. Instead, they falsify their own manure records, in some cases, by doctoring manure samples to alter the concentration of phosphates and nitrates, the paper said.  More >

Tax minister to simplify 'complex' system

Junior finance minister Menno Snel plans to simplify the current Dutch tax system and will present his proposals to parliament early next year. Changes to the ‘box 2’ system of dealing with income other than earnings from work is on the cards, as is taxing income earned from rental platforms such as Airbnb, the junior minister told MPs in a briefing. The current complex system of benefits will also be included in the evaluation, Snel said. The cabinet has already made made progress, Snel said in his briefing. For example, from next year the number of tax bands will be formalised at two. Government auditors said last year they have no idea if most of the 213 tax breaks available to companies and private individuals in the Netherlands have any effect or what they actually cost the treasury.  More >

Banks warned on money laundering

Finance ministry inspectors are pressing ahead with investigations into money laundering via Dutch banks, and will take action against institutions which are not doing enough to tackle the problem, the service chief Hans van der Vliet has told the Financieele Dagblad. 'Our investigation continues,' Van der Vliet said. 'If banks are not doing their job as gatekeeper properly, then we will end up at them.' He said he expected the entire Dutch banking sector to come up with initiatives in the short term to prevent another ING debacle. Earlier this year the bank agreed a €755m out of court settlement for failing to take money laundering seriously. The central bank told finance minister Wopke Hoekstra at the time that more banks were lax in their approach to the problem. One sign that compliance is improving would be an increase in the number of unusual transactions reported to the authorities, Van der Vliet said. Last year banks reported just over 360,000 unusual transactions to the special register, down almost 60,000 on 2016. A spokesman for the Dutch banking association told the paper that plans to improve compliance are being worked on.  More >

KvK acts on privacy for self-employed

The Dutch chamber of trade organisation (KvK) is to remove phone numbers from its public directories because they are being used for cold call marketing. Four in 10 self-employed people consulted by the KvK said they are frequently bothered by telephone marketeers and in nearly four in five times, the approach is made by phone. The KvK has said it will now remove phone details from the public registers but not from official listings which have to be paid for. The KvK came under fire earlier this year for selling information about small firms and the self-employed to third parties for advertising purposes. The privacy watchdog AFM is currently assessing if this practice is legal.   More >