‘Housing corporations hunt for points to raise rent’
1 March 2007 - Rent teams encounter examples
in which rents suddenly double from six hundred to twelve hundred
euro or more, after the housing corporation has for example installed
a new bathroom. Housing corporations deny that this is current practice.
“We are pretty concerned about the way in which housing corporations,
to put it simply, are hunting for points”, said Rob Delno
of the rent team responsible for supporting renters in ZuiderAmstel.
“Formally that is allowed, but another question one should
ask is whether this is what housing corporations have been created
The Netherlands has a system in which points reflecting the quality
of a house determine the maximum rent. If a house is awarded 143
points, amounting to a rent of over 615 euro, the rent is liberalised
and the landlord can ask as much as he wants.
“What you often see now is that such a house has some 130
points, and when the tenant moves, the owner thinks, I will install
a luxurious bathroom, a luxurious kitchen, thermostatic radiator
knobs. I add all kinds of extras that will increase the number of
points, and in this way I raise the number of points above 143”,
“And that would not be so bad if they would say, we rent
it out not for 600 but for 700 or 800 euro, for there is considerable
demand for that category houses in Amsterdam as well, especially
among the middle class. But there are corporations that know only
one tariff, and that is immediately twelve, thirteen hundred euro.
That is a different story of course”.
The practice would occur mainly in the so-called ‘golden
wedge’, the popular neighbourhoods in Centrum, South and ZuiderAmstel.
The rent teams have heard stories that some housing corporations
have special teams to raise houses with 130 points that come available
to 143 points. De Key and de Alliantie deny working in such a way.
In addition, some corporations would go to court in order to arrive
at 143 points after all, after an unfavourable ruling by the rent
commission. Ramón Donicie of the Amsterdam rent teams: “With
the help of expensive law firms they do all they can to raise the
points. They say, no, there are two rows of trees here instead of
one, so that is half a point more, and the playground [wipkippen]
is not at 500 metres but at 200 metres distance from the house”.
The rent teams do not keep records on raising the rents and therefore
cannot say whether this practice is becoming more prevalent. However,
they are convinced that the cases that reach their offices are only
the tip of the iceberg. In view of the tight housing market, many
people accept high rents, even if they do not have to.
Donicie: “Let me put it this way, the housing corporations
are no longer the social housing associations of ten, fifteen years
ago, that is really something of the past”.
One of the housing corporations that would apply this method is
de Key. However, spokesperson Daniëlle Klinkert denies that
there is a policy to raise the points to 143 when new tenants move
in. This would not fit with its social responsibility policy.
It does occur that rents are raised after extensive renovations.
Even then, the rent remains in such cases between six hundred and
nine hundred euro, Klinkert said. The share of liberalised houses
among the property of de Key has been between three and four percent
for years, she said, so there is no strong increase.
Klinkert acknowledges that there have been ‘one or two’
cases of houses at the Maasstraat which saw their rents more or
less double. In these cases the rent was subsequently lowered, however,
partly because the ZuiderAmstel District was concerned by the loss
of affordable houses.
The example of the tree lines Donicie referred to was at Maasstraat
196 hs. Here, de Key had set the rent at 1,250 euro, but the rent
commission ruled that it had to be lowered to 591.18 euro, according
to Donicie. De Key appealed this decision in court. There is no
court ruling yet and the rent has not been lowered yet, Donicie
Like Klinkert, Guido Lodders of de Alliantie said that his housing
corporation does not have a policy of liberalising houses and then
substantially raise the rent, even though he cannot rule out that
this has happened on occasion. “Tenants can always say: do
I get enough value for my money”.
The rent teams would like to see legislation changed, making landlords
comply with the maximum rent above 615 euro as well. In addition,
tenants should always be able to apply to the rent commission if
their rent has been wrongly liberalised. Now they can also do so
within six months.
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