Requirement #1: Housing policy that guarantees availability, affordability and housing security.
The current shortage of homes in the Netherlands is more than 300,000. Waiting times for social housing in a quarter of the Dutch municipality are at least 7 years and half of the new leases offered are temporary. The current housing policy is failing enormously in its task of providing us with enough affordable housing with housing security. That is why we demand a radically new housing policy in which availability, affordability and housing security are central.
Requirement #2: No homelessness, no evictions, no forced removals and lifting of the squatting ban.
Migrant workers who end up on the street without rights, anti-squat tenants who are exchanged for each other, free sector tenants who become homeless after a temporary contract or parents who sleep on the street after a divorce due to the harrowing lack of affordable housing. Homelessness in the Netherlands has more than doubled in 10 years, and has even tripled among young people, and can largely be attributed to the housing crisis and the policies that have been implemented in the past 10 years. That is why we demand on October 17: No homelessness, no evictions, no forced removals and the lifting of the squatting ban.
Requirement #3: Investments in widely accessible public housing: stop the breakdown of the social sector, abolish the landlord levy.
The current housing policy is working hard to break down the social rental sector. In recent years, income limits have been tightened. People have been chased out of their homes with targeted rent increases. And the number of social rental homes has fallen sharply due to liberalisation, sale and demolition. Everyone is familiar with the result: waiting lists for social housing of 10 years or longer, also outside the Randstad. It is almost impossible to find an affordable home.
We demand widely accessible public housing, which means that social rental housing should be available to as many people as possible. So not only for people with the lowest incomes, but also for people with a middle income. For everyone who is now forced to rent in the free sector. And for everyone who can no longer afford a home in their own city. Housing is a basic need and should not be left to the 'free' market. Social housing is a good way to ensure long-term affordability and accessibility for as many people as possible.
We demand that the government invest more in the construction of social rental housing, municipalities stop pursuing a demolition policy, and the sale and liberalization of social rental housing is stopped. The breakdown of the social rental sector must stop.
The first step is to abolish the landlord levy. This tax has already cost housing associations more than 11 billion euros and is nothing more than an ideologically motivated tax on social housing. This is money that could otherwise be invested in the construction and sustainability of social housing!
Requirement #4: No discriminatory policy. Get rid of the Rotterdam Act and more homes for people with disabilities.
We already drew attention to the problems surrounding the Rotterdam Act yesterday. The Rotterdam Act discriminates against, stigmatizes and affects people with a migration background disproportionately by being able to refuse residents in certain neighborhoods on the basis of their income, socio-economic background or police reports. This sometimes has major consequences.
In September 2020, for example, a single mother and her son were refused social housing in Rotterdam on the basis of the Rotterdam Act. Mother and son were threatened by an imminent eviction in The Hague, but found social housing in Rotterdam in time. However, on the day of the key transfer, they were told that they were not allowed to live in the house, because of the Rotterdam Act. The Bond Precaire Woonvorm took action together with her to prevent eviction, but in the end she had to move to a demolished house in The Hague south-west with a temporary contract based on vacancy management. From social housing with housing security, to a demolition building with a temporary contract. Hard-core exclusion from public housing, and the result of political policy.
Requirement #5: Full control and independent support for residents with plans for their home, neighborhood and city.
It happens too often that residents are not involved in plans for their home, neighborhood and city. Instead of making residents part of the plans from the start, they are presented with fait accomplis. As a result, residents are insulted, valuable knowledge about a neighborhood is not included in decision-making, and people are deprived of their right to say.
The Tenants Consultation Act provides that tenants are entitled to participation, but in practice this is little guaranteed by the municipality and housing associations. Owner-occupiers and temporary tenants usually have even less say because nothing is fixed for them. And where residents are involved, they often do not have access to the legal and technical expertise necessary to enforce full control.
That is why we demand full control and independent support for all residents with plans for their home, neighborhood and city. Make plans with, not for residents!
Requirement #6: Containing the financialization of housing: houses are not a commodity. Freeze rents for 5 years.
More and more houses are being used as an investment object. Investors from all over the world invest their money in the Dutch real estate market to take advantage of rising rent and house prices. Housing has become an investment opportunity, a way to earn easy money, without having to work. The financial world, banks, real estate funds, pension funds and speculators, have started trading homes as if they were stocks.
At the same time, people have become increasingly dependent on financial players for their housing needs. It is impossible to buy a house without access to a mortgage or savings. Tenants are also affected by the financialization of housing. Think of the tenants of housing association Vivare in Arnhem, whose (formerly social!) rental properties were traded with millions of profits by international real estate speculators. After their homes changed hands, rents have only risen. Investors who buy in order to rent out (buy-to-let) contribute to the price increase of housing.
We demand that the financialization of housing be curbed. It is not normal for real estate investors to reap high profits at the expense of tenants and first-time buyers. In recent decades, the position of real estate speculators has been strengthened through deliberate policy. Rent protection has been broken down, income from real estate is hardly taxed, and the social sector is limited to give room to landlords in the free sector. Solving this problem requires several measures, such as purchase protection and taxing rental income. In addition, reversing flex rent and regulating rents means that investors can no longer benefit from exorbitant price increases. And freezing rents for 5 years not only eases housing costs for tenants but also makes speculation unattractive.
Requirement #7: Less market forces, lower rents: remove the WOZ value from the rent, regulate rents also in the free sector, and make the points system generally binding. Penalize excessive rents.
For social housing, the maximum rent is based on the number of points that the property scores in the points system of the Rent Assessment Committee (which is based, among other things, on living space and facilities that the property has). Landlords do not always provide insight into how they calculate their rent, so it is up to the tenant to check whether they are not paying too much. If you pay too much, the Rent Assessment Committee can make a decision about lowering the rent. The landlord will then be fined only €300.
The above only applies to social rent. If the permitted rent (according to the points system) is above the liberalization limit of €752.33 per month, the house falls into the free sector and the landlord can ask what he wants. In addition, private individuals in particular also offer landlords homes that should actually fall under the liberalization limit for free sector prices. Under the motto, who does not risk, who does not win. You are powerless as a tenant.
Since 2015, the WOZ value has been part of the points system for social housing. This mechanism drives up housing prices. The WOZ value is based on the current prices of homes in the area. Via the WOZ value, price increases from the free market also enter the social rented sector and this can cause the rent to rise above the liberalization limit. Then the landlord can raise the prices even further.
We demand less market forces, lower rents: extract the WOZ value from the rent, regulate rents also in the free sector, and make the points system generally binding. Punish excessive rents and tackle slum landlords.
Requirement #8: Treat buying and renting as equivalent. Provide ample space and land positions to housing cooperatives.
For decades people in the Netherlands have been encouraged to buy their own home: renting would be a waste of your money, and buying the superior option. With tax benefits for buyers, such as the mortgage interest deduction and the jubelton, and ever more liberal lending standards from banks, home ownership has been consciously encouraged. This has pushed up house prices to a point where owning a home has become out of reach for a new generation of home seekers.
At the moment, tenants, and especially young people and first-time buyers, spend a larger part of their income on their homes than buyers do. At the same time, for many tenants an owner-occupied home is unaffordable. Policies that promote home ownership have contributed to this inequality. Renting should be an affordable and accessible option in addition to buying, so that people have a choice and are not forced to rent too expensive or take on too heavy a mortgage. That is why we demand that buying and renting are treated as equal. This means that different policies must be pursued that reduce housing inequality between buyers and tenants and reduce disproportionate tax benefits for buyers.
Also give more space to other forms of housing, such as housing cooperatives. Housing cooperatives are an alternative to expensive owner-occupied homes and excessive rents: by jointly owning and managing homes, rents can be kept low, and homes can be withdrawn from the price-increasing effects of the housing market. Access to affordable building land is necessary for housing cooperatives and municipalities must take the lead in this. Make it possible for cooperatives to establish themselves by offering them building land at a social price and by supporting them financially in their development phase.
Requirement #9: Reverse flexibility and guarantee housing security: fixed rental contracts and permanent housing.
Since 1 July 2016, temporary leases for regular tenants have been permitted under the Rental Market Transition Act. Since then, temporary rental, or flex rental, has only increased: there are now at least 12 different types of temporary contracts and approximately 50 percent of rental properties are offered with such a contract. This has led to the normalization of temporary rent and flex contracts, which has major consequences for residents. They have great uncertainty about their living situation and are therefore deprived of the peace and stability to build up their lives.
In addition, temporary contracts drive up rents. While current leases are subject to a statutory maximum rent increase, this does not apply to new tenants. That is why it is financially attractive for landlords to offer temporary rental contracts: when the contract expires, the landlord can offer a new temporary contract with a higher rent. For example, temporary contracts lead to higher rents.
We demand that the flexibility of rents be reversed and that tenants are once again offered housing security. Instead of looking for solutions for 'better' flex rental, as proposed by outgoing minister Ollongren, we demand the effective use of permanent contracts as the norm.