Dutch plan for housing crisis

06/07/2019 - 07:00

By Ellen Proper
With Amsterdam’s housing shortage driving many of its residents out of the city, the Dutch government has decided to do something about it — including capping rents.

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It has signed a long-term housing deal with the Amsterdam metropolitan area to prevent tenants from being priced out of their neighbourhoods, promising unspecified investments and tweaks to the law.

Dutch Interior Minister Kajsa Ollongren and Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema are joining forces to keep the housing market affordable after the median home price in the Dutch capital soared 80% in the past four years to €448,000.

Housing policy in the Netherlands is partly decentralised, with local governments responsible for ensuring supply and the national government for affordability. Now, amid inadequate supply and sizzling housing prices, the parties are looking to tackle the issue together. “It is unacceptable for us that middle-income people are pushed further and further out of our region,” Ms Halsema said at a ceremony to unveil the deal. “This housing agreement opens the door to new measures, a step forward for middle-income folks to obtain a house,” she said.

Although housing market problems are not unique to Amsterdam, pressure has intensified in the Dutch capital as it has drawn increasing numbers of people fleeing Brexit and as investors have bought up properties to convert them into rentals.

The new plan would give the Amsterdam region instruments to fight excessive rent increases, including a so-called emergency button triggering caps when they’ve risen too fast. The minister will propose new regulation for holiday rentals through sites like Airbnb.

The officials will also explore the possibility of a ban on rentals in newly built homes to keep landlords from snapping them up, pushing middle-class buyers out of the market.

The plan for Amsterdam is the fifth such deal by the Dutch government to address housing shortages. It has unveiled similar customised proposals for Groningen, Eindhoven, Utrecht and the Randstad, which includes Rotterdam and The Hague, the country’s political capital.

The Netherlands has a plan to encourage real-estate developers to build on average 75,000 houses a year, which has drawn criticism from industry players who say it’s too little.

- Bloomberg

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