Housing corporations evict fewer tenants, say more can still be done

Dutch housing corporations evicted far fewer people for non-payment of bills last year, umbrella group Aedes said on Thursday. In 2017, 3,700 tenants were evicted, a drop of almost a quarter on 2016, Aedes said. Eight in 10 were evicted for not paying their rent. The others either caused a nuisance, were growing marijuana, or had sublet or left the property empty. In total, 84% were single people. ‘There are often sad personal stories behind evictions, so housing corporations do all they can to prevent people from ending up on the streets,’ Aedes chairman Marnix Norder said in a statement. Corporations are, for example, increasingly making agreements with local authorities about poverty, debt and evictions and Noorder said the eviction rate can be reduced still further. ‘The tax office and government fines department have priority in collecting debts, but add on enormous process costs,’ Norder said. ‘If we want to reduce the eviction rate, then the government has to ditch its priority claim and work with councils and housing corporations.’ Rent, gas, water and electricity should have priority when debts are being settled, he said, adding ‘a roof over your head is more important than paying a fine.’  More >

Amsterdam homes are smaller than average

Amsterdam residents have on average 49 square metres in which to live, well below the national average of 65 m2, according to the national statistics office CBS. Couples without children fare even worse, having only 40 m2 per person in the capital city.  Childless couples elsewhere in the country have 60% more room the CBS said. Two-thirds of all Amsterdammers live in homes which are smaller than 75m2 and only 3% have homes bigger than 150 m2.  The national average is 25% and 17% respectively. The difference between Amsterdam and the rest of the country has a lot to do with age, the CBS said. Large cities attract young people, students and starters, all of whom live alone and prices are higher.  The trade-off between the two, the CBS said, is measured in square metres. Nevertheless, property developers in the city are keen to develop ever smaller housing units, or micro-apartments, for youngsters. Micro-apartments usually measure between 29m2 and 32m2, or the size of a large master bedroom in a more traditional home. Nevertheless, all are equipped with a kitchen, toilet and shower and come complete with shared facilities such as a launderette, cafe and even guest accommodation.  More >

House prices rise 8.6% in April

House prices in the Netherlands rose 8.6% in April and are now 27% higher than June 2013, when the recovery began, national statistics agency CBS said on Tuesday. The increase in April is up slightly on March, the CBS said. At the same time, fewer homes are changing hands. Some 68,000 flats and houses were sold in the first four months of this year, down 6% on the year earlier period.   More >

Fewer new mortgages, first time in 5 years

The number of mortgage agreements provided by Dutch banks and other institutions fell for the first time in five years in the first quarter of 2017 according to a new report by IG&H Consultants. Despite the drop in the number of mortgages, the average value of a mortgage topped €300,000 in the first quarter of this year, a 7% gain and the highest level ever, IH&G said. Fewer than 80,000 mortgages were issued in the first three months of this year, representing a 3% decline over the year-earlier period, the  consultancy said on Wednesday. The sharpest decline was seen in the starters market where there were 11% fewer mortgages than a year earlier, IH&G said. As prices rise, the housing market is being closed off to first-time buyers which formed the largest group of people signing up for mortgages four years ago. Starters now account for less than a quarter of all mortgages.  More >

Shift to gas-free homes is panic football

Project developers, building firms and housing corporations have sounded the alarm about the cabinet's plans to ban them from including gas-fired heating and cooking facilities in new homes from July this year. They accused the cabinet of being irresponsible because the decision will lead to long delays as architectural plans are changed to take the new rules into account. Some 35% of the new homes in the planning or under construction are connected to the gas grid - and that means the plans for 10,000 homes will have to be amended, the building firms say. The coalition agreement stated that new homes should be gas-free from the end of the current cabinet period, and home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren has also given 2020 as the deadline. But following the latest earthquakes in Groningen, the cabinet has decided to speed up the transition to a gas-free society and MPs voted virtually unanimously to end the requirement that all homes have the option to use gas as quickly as possible. That, in effect, means that gas companies can no longer provide the infrastructure for new housing developments from July this year. Jan Fokkema, head of the project developer's association Neprom, told the Volkskrant the July 1 deadline is 'panic football', and pointed out that there is a major shortage of technicians to install the new heat pump technology.  More >

House corporations keep rent rises low

Housing corporations are set to put up rents by an average of 1.5% this year, roughly in line with inflation, according to a survey of 180 social housing providers by umbrella body Aedes. This is well below the maximum increase of 3.9% for households with an income of below €41,000 a year. Four in 10 corporations plan to put up the rent of social housing lived in by high earners - who technically earn too much for a rent-controlled property - by up to 5.4%. Dutch housing corporations own some 2.4 million houses, of which all but around 5% fall into the social housing sector with rents of below €710.68 a month. On Tuesday, housing platform Pararius said new tenants in the free, or non-rent controlled sector, are paying 6% more than they would have done a year ago.  More >