Short-stay rentals in Amsterdam under threat

17 October 2013, by

In a setback for home owners hoping to earn some extra money by renting their house or apartment online though services such as Airbnb, the Amsterdam Criminal Court has ruled that hiring a private home for a short period falls under "commercial exploitation."

This means that all homes in Amsterdam that have owners associations, the vast majority of homes in fact, may not be allowed to be rented out.

Court case

The ruling came out of an earlier court case brought by an apartment owner who was letting tourists stay in his house for a few days once or twice a month. The homeowners association from his apartment complex had decided that a "short stay, hotel or bed-and-breakfast operation for less than one month" should not be allowed in an apartment complex.

The association's lawyer then summoned the property owner to stop letting the property to tourists, on pain of a 6.000 euro fine. The property owner then went to court with the request to set aside the decision of the owners association.

The judge, however, agreed with the association. According to the verdict, renting the apartment for short periods is in violation of the residential complex’s deed of division, because the short stay formula does not meet "use in accordance with the residence" as prescribed in the deed, but instead falls under commercial operation.

This ruling comes after the Amsterdam municipality released new rules for renting to tourists in April 2013.

Implications for renting

According to real estate law attorney Thomas van Vugt from AMS Lawyers, such a clause is almost always in a deed of division or in the rules of an association and thus the judgment may have a major impact on Airbnb rentals in Amsterdam.

"Unless an association gives explicit written permission, a property owner may not rent his own home for a short stay," concludes Van Vugt.

Short-stay house rentals in Amsterdam
Photo by Flickr user katielips

Reaction from the municipality

In June, the municipality of Amsterdam said vacation rental was a boost for tourism and the economy of the city.

"Vacation rental meets the needs of many foreign tourists who want 'to live like a local' and it makes Amsterdam an attractive destination," said Councillor for Housing Freek Ossel.

The municipality has been active in shutting down illegal hotels; that is, those houses that don’t comply with the regulations. This includes ensuring there is no nuisance to neighbours, that there is adequate fire safety, the property is not rented to more than four people and that tourist taxes are paid.

According to the municipality, the extent of this form of rental is still limited; last year it was less than two per cent of the total number of overnight stays in Amsterdam.

A spokesman for the municipality explained, "We are constantly looking to see if the rules need to be strengthened and how we can make the rules as clear as possible, so we will certainly take this [ruling] into consideration."

Source: Volkskrant

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Comments arranged by date (Total 5 comments)  
October 17 2013, 10:40AM

I do not have a home to rent but still I think this is totally unfair for homeowners. I am a user of airbnb, I prefer to rent an apartment than to go to a hotel when I am on holidays. The court is not doing another thing than delimit what should be a right of people (to decide where to stay when on holidays, to decide to rent a property:Something owned; a possession.Something tangible or intangible to which its owner has legal title.The right of ownership; title.). There is no need to regulate everything, some things are self-regulated.

October 17 2013, 11:09AM

In a city where the majority of homes are rented and not owned, I can't help but thinking that this new ruling is born out of jealous: "It's not fair that my neighbour can make money out of their place and I can't!"

Those of us who occasionally rent their homes on airbnb are already taxed on the earnings (in an agreement made especially for hosts in the Netherlands, airbnb automatically adds 21%btw to the rental price and pays it directly to the government). On top of that, you are supposed to declare the income you make from home rental in your yearly tax returns.

I totally agree with you Sergio. I own my house, therefore I have the right to do WHATEVER I please in it and if that means renting it out twice a year, then I will, no matter what the VVE says. How will they ever know? I'll just tell them they are my friends staying in my place to water the plants or something (better get some plants ;)).

Hoteliers have already tried to stop airbnb because it takes business away from them but there is a massive shortage of affordable tourist accommodation in Ams and the city council should be grateful that more tourists can be accommodated in the city.

Apart from NYC, Amsterdam is the only city I know of that has issues with airbnb.

October 17 2013, 02:39PM

I have a different point of view. As a home owner, I understand the point about being able to use your home as you wish. I am also in favour of exploiting earning potential.
Where I differ is an issue of safety. I have experienced a neighbour who let their apartment in the same block as mine for these short term lets. This meant that strangers with no vested interest or feeling of responsibility for the property were allowed access to our apartment block.
We are a close community and it was quite disconcerting to meet people in our shared areas who didn't speak or who disregarded the communal areas of our building. Direct neighbours often experienced problems with noise and anti-social behaviour.
The other issue you need to consider is insurance (which the Dutch love). For example, taking a worst case scenario, should the guests start a fire, and the neighbours houses are affected, in the very vast majority of cases no claim can be made. Its worth while considering as my neighbours and myself had to - would you be willing to give up your home and all your posessions so that a few Euros can be earned by short term renting?

October 17 2013, 03:36PM

Karen, if you live in an apartment block where the inhabitants change regularly, and many of your nieghbours have people coming and going all the time (pesky students!), it doesn't really make a difference if there are a few others in the building. I'm used to bumping into complete randomers on the stairs but I guess each building is different in what the inhabitants will or won't tolerate.

I do agree that a constant stream of people coming in and out might be a different matter but a few times of year should be unnoticeable.

Airbnb allows you to select exactly who stays in your house (you are under no obligation to accept anyone who asks) and guests are given ratings about their cleanliness/manners etc.

Personally, I only accept older/professional couples or individuals coming in business. They are told several times that they must respect my neighbours and keep noise to a minimum after 11pm.

Regarding the risk, yes, it's worth it when you can pay your entire mortgage from one week's rent. I lock away anything personal and valuable and I charge a significant deposit that is only released back to the guest 24 hours after they have left the property. In addition, Airbnb assumes the risk if a disaster/burglary is caused by the renter and has a significant legal support in place for hosts.

October 17 2013, 07:05PM

If your renters cause a fire that burns down the complete complex then the shared building insurance for the VVE most likely will not covered the building as using Airbnb will be classed as commercial renting. In any case no one will complain if it does not cause a problem. In the case the VVE went to court then the short stay folk must have been causing problems, other wise who would bother with this amount of effort.

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Alexandra Gowling

Alexandra is an Australian citizen and an experienced expat, having spent (quite a bit of) time in A...

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