Social housing becoming too expensive for low-income renters

18 March 2014, by
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Social housing rent for new tenants rose dramatically in 2013 in Utrecht and Amsterdam, leaving more and more tenants unable to find affordable living arrangements.

This finding comes from data from the housing corporation association Aedes, as well as an investigation of the housing corporations in these two cities.

Rent nearing the social housing maximum

In Utrecht and Amsterdam, new social housing tenants had to pay an average 100 euros more rent in 2013. In many cases, prices have been pushed to the maximum and lie just under the social housing rent border of 699 euros.

Currently, the Netherlands contains approximately three million rental homes, 75 per cent of which are owned by housing corporations. These corporations are obligated to rent out nine out of ten of their vacant social housing homes to people who fall within the low-income bracket.

High social housing rent is not only an issue in Amsterdam and Utrecht; prices have also been on the rise in other areas with expensive housing markets, such as Haarlem and Den Bosch.

In October 2013, a study by the Volkskrant revealed that renting a house in the Randstad region is more expensive than buying, even for those who live in social housing.

The Dutch labour party PvdA has launched fierce campaigns against this “explosion in rent,” which prevents low-income tenants from finding affordable housing.

At the same time, an increasing number of people are being evicted. According to Aedes, 2013 saw an eight per cent spike in evictions, reaching a total of 6.980. In 90 per cent of these cases, eviction was a result of the tenant defaulting on rent or failing to pay it on time.

Housing corporations blame new tax

Housing corporations have been quick to shift the blame to the government, arguing that they have increased rent in order to pay the extra landlord tax levy that has been recently imposed. This tax is expected to raise 1,7 billion euros by 2017.

The bulk of the burden of this new taxation falls on the tenants. Not only have new social housing rental prices jumped, but even existing tenants have received a rent increase by up to 4,5 per cent above inflation, depending on their income.

According to director Hans van Harten of the Amsterdam Federation of Housing Corporations, all political parties advocate affordable housing, but those who supported the tax on housing corporation income have contradicted their own ideals, as this tax leads to higher rent.

However, Gilbert Isabella, leader of the Utrecht PvdA, disagrees. "Of course corporations suffer from the landlord tax. However, they have also a lot of unnecessary expenditures. They can cut back on their business operations."

Source: Volkskrant, Government of the Netherlands

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Ellen Keith

A Canadian with Dutch roots, Ellen has had half her heart in the Netherlands since the day she was b...

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