Amsterdam says clampdown on illegal holiday lets is paying off


The battle by Amsterdam council against property owners illegally renting rooms to tourists appears to be paying off, city officials said on Wednesday. The number of closures of illegal hotels fell by 10% in the first half of the year, and this shows the crackdown 'appears to be paying off', the city said in a statement. In the first half of this year, officials handed out 71 fines to people who did not register the lets or who had illegally rented out their property. A further 77 fines were given to property owners who had illegally rented out their property to multiple occupants. The number of complaints made to the council hotline fell to 1,394 from 1,572 in the 2017 first half. ‘This decline is partly due to the fact that fewer buildings are being bought by investors hoping to cash in on illegal rentals to tourists,’  Laurens  Ivens, the alderman for housing, told the Telegraaf.  More >



ProRail warns about railway vibrations

New homes built close to railway tracks should be better protected against the vibrations caused by train traffic, given that it will grow in the future,' according to railway infrastructure company ProRail. ProRail says it has sent over 100 letters to local authorities since 2015 warning them about the problem but with mixed results. In Delft, for example, agreements were reached about housing on the new railway tunnel but in one case, ProRail has threatened to go to court, the company said. The state-owned company says local authorities and developers should be aware of the problem. 'We are making mention of this now because we will be blamed in the future if cups start rattling on tables and cracks appear in walls,' chief executive Pier Eringa told Radio 1. Pressure on the railways is increasing and dozens of housing developments have been planned close to tracks, he pointed out. In Zuid-Holland alone, 75,000 homes have been planned close to railways, Eringa told the broadcaster. ProRail is also taking steps to alleviate the problems by, for example, placing rubber mats in track foundations to absorb the vibrations.  However, the simplest solution would be not to build too close to railway tracks, he said.  More >




MPs tackle high earners in social housing

The four coalition parties want to take action to get high earners out of social housing by putting rents up to the maximum in one go, the AD said on Wednesday. Currently landlords are allowed to give high earners a rent increase of not more than 5.4% a year but the coalition says landlords should be allowed to whack the rent up to the maximum of €710 in one go. The maximum rent in the rent-controlled sector is €710 and rents are assessed on a point system depending on factors such as location, number of rooms and facilities. Rent-controlled property is restricted to people with an income of less than €41,000. 'It should not be the case that people who are entitled to a rent-controlled property are on a waiting list for years while people with a far too high income are keeping these houses occupied,' Christian Democrat MP Erik Ronnes told the paper. At the same time, people whose income drops unexpectedly could be given a rent cut, the MPs say. The MPs have asked home affairs minister Kajsa Ollongren to discuss the issue with housing corporations, which are responsible for most of the rent-controlled property in the Netherlands. Mid-market rentals Research by ING last year showed that the higher rent rises for households with an income of over €41,000 a year had a limited effect. One reason for this is the lack of rental property with a rent of €710 to €1,000 a month. Earlier this year, Ollongren published plans to boost the amount of affordable housing in the Netherlands. She says the Netherlands needs 75,000 sustainable homes a year to keep up with demand. As well as building new homes, old office blocks and other redundant buildings will be reused, to offset the shortage of inner city building ground, the minister said.  More >



MPs propose new law to tackle holiday lets

MPs from the right-wing VVD and the Socialists will present a joint motion to parliament on Tuesday evening which will brand breaking the rules for holiday rentals on websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com an economic crime, the Parool said on Tuesday. The motion, which can count on widespread support in parliament, would make it possible for officials to go to court to claim the illegal earnings back through the likes of Airbnb, the Parool said. The move has been welcomed by Amsterdam housing alderman Laurens Ivens who has been campaigning for tougher action against holiday rental sites which, he says, do not do enough to stop landlords breaking the rules. 'We already have the option of tackling people who rent out their homes, but that is not the case for the rental websites,' Ivens said. Earlier this month, Ivens accused Airbnb of not doing enough to combat illegal letting and has threatened not to renew an agreement the city has had with the platform since 2013. Agreement Some 20,000 homes were on offer on the rental site this year, a rise of 500 on 2017, despite council efforts to bring holiday rentals under control. The city’s agreement with Airbnb on stamping out illegal rentals expires at the end of this year, and Ivens says the American company must do more. Amsterdam home owners can rent out their property through holiday rental platforms for no more than 60 days a year and to no more than four people at one time. Landlords also have to register each let with the city council. Next January the maximum period for rentals will be cut to 30 days and officials are also looking at bringing in total bans in the busiest parts of the city. Risks People who rent out their homes while breaking the rules should be tackled because they calculate the current fine in with their risks, the MPs say. 'We want the minister to treat this sort of fraud as an economic crime,' VVD MP Daniel Koerhuis told the Parool. 'That will allow us to take back the profits these criminals make. That is the only thing they understand.' Parliament will debate how to deal with landlords who abuse the housing system on Tuesday evening. Airbnb told DutchNews.nl that unlike other rental sites it does all it can to prevent people renting out homes for more than 60 says. 'Airbnb has also collected more than €17m in tourist tax and continues to work for responsible holiday rentals,' the company said. 'We have a robust system to detect and prevent fraudulent activity and we continually evaluate our systems.'  More >