Social housing fraud and illegal rentals a major issue in Amsterdam


Between 10% and 20% of rent controlled properties owned by big housing corporations in Amsterdam may be illegally sublet, the Financieele Dagblad said on Wednesday. In total, 186,000 properties in the capital are set aside for low income households and research by the paper shows that tens of thousands of official tenants may be committing fraud. The paper and research group Decisive Facts studied adverts on the popular housing rental site Kamernet and compared with them with the corporations' own housing stock. It found large numbers of corporation houses were being rented out via the website, often for two or three times the legal rent. 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, chief executive of the Rochdale housing corporation, told the paper that housing fraud is often committed in combination with social security fraud and other problems. Housing corporations need to work together with the police, tax office and SVB benefit payments agency to properly combat fraud with social housing, she said.  More >



New homes go up 50% in price in 3 years

The price of a newly built home in the Netherlands has risen some 50% over the past three years, according to new figures from the national statistics agency CBS. The annual rise is currently around 17%, which is almost double the rise in the sale price of an existing home. The figures are further evidence of the impact of the government's climate change proposals on the housing market, experts say. The average price of a new home in the Netherlands is now nearly €400,000, compared with €292,000 for an existing home. New homes are now being built without connections to the gas grid and have high levels of insulation plus solar panels and heat pump or geothermal heating systems - all of which is more expensive. In addition, many new housing projects are being built in the bigger Dutch cities, where prices are being driven up by the housing shortage. Slovenia is the only place in Europe where house prices are rising faster than the Netherlands, the CBS said. The figures are based on the third quarter of 2018.  More >



House rents continue to rise

The rise in rents in non-rent controlled property has slowed down slightly, with Amsterdam showing the smallest increase in the four big cities, according to new research by housing platform Pararius. At the end of last year, new tenants in Amsterdam were paying an average of €1,493 for a 65 square metre flat, a rise of 3.2% on the previous year. In Rotterdam and The Hague the rise was 4%, in Utrecht almost 13%. Nationwide the increase was 4.9%, the first time in 3.5 years that the average rise has dipped below 5%. 'The difference between the previous two quarters may seem small but taking price developments over the past four years, there would appear to be a slow down in the rate of increase,' Pararius director Jasper de Groot said. Almere The biggest rise was Almere, where rents rose over 22% to an average of €815 for a 65 square metre apartment. Real estate agent Marcel Schumacher said the shortage of homes plus the attractiveness of Almere to expats as an alternative to Amsterdam were having an impact. The Pararius figures show that the number of non-rent controlled properties offered to new tenants via the website fell 12% last year. 'We need to increase the size of the mid-market rental sector,' De Groot said. 'But there is really no easy option to solve the shortage homes and the rise in rents.'  More >



Refugees hit by shortage of housing

Refugees at Ter Apel Some 4,500 refugees with residency permits are still living in refugee centres because local authorities have been unable to find them homes, Trouw reported on Wednesday. Last year, local authorities were able to find permanent accommodation for 18,000 out of 21,000 refugees granted leave to stay in the Netherlands, the paper says. It bases the claim on home affairs ministry figures. Refugee centres have been shrinking as the number of new arrivals dries up, but the number of places has expanded over the past six months because of the shortage of suitable homes, Trouw said. In particular there is a lack of housing for single people, larger families and people with physical handicaps. Since 2017, local authorities have no longer been required by law to prioritise people granted asylum for housing but they are still obliged to provide enough housing for refugees. There is a severe shortage of affordable homes in the Netherlands, and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren has backed building sector plans to build 75,000 homes a year by 2025 to fill the need.  More >



The Hague plans to build 10,000 new homes

The Hague has agreed to build new apartment blocks next to the city's three biggest railway stations which will offer a total of 10,000 new homes to 'policemen, teachers and bike repair workers'. The buildings will be between 100 and 150 metres high and will be focused around the main railway station, Hollands Spoor and Laan van NOI. Most will be rental housing, the Volkskrant has reported. 'We are not going to fill in green spaces on the edge of the city because we don't have any and we are not going to build new out-of-town residential estates either,' alderman Boudewijn Revis said at the presentation of the plans on Tuesday. 'Nor are we looking for little fields which would fit three houses,' he said. 'We are going to leave existing neighbourhoods alone.' The Hague expects its population to go up by 4,000 to 5,000 a year and to reach 630,000 by 2040. 'We have an urgent need of homes for policemen, teachers and the bike repairman,' Revis said. 'We need to make speed on this.' The city's current population is around 535,000. Between 5,000 and 7,000 homes will be built behind HS railway station in what the council has dubbed the College Campus. Up to 2,000 homes will be built near the Laan van NOI station which has been branded the ICT Security Campus. The former social security ministry building, which was designed by Dutch architect Herman Hertzberger and is next to the station, may be demolished, if a developer comes up with a good plan, Revis said. The rest of the housing will be developed near Centraal Station and the project includes building on top of the A12 motorway. This district has been dubbed the Policy Campus because it is close to both government ministries and the Leiden University building. A draft of the plans was first presented in November last year and the finalised version has now been approved by the city's executive board.  More >