New plan to tackle Amsterdam housing crisis, but expats might not benefit

New plan to tackle Amsterdam housing crisis, but expats might not benefit

While house and rental prices across the Netherlands are now falling, the housing and rental markets in the Dutch capital remain expensive and competitive. With Amsterdam facing a severe shortage of housing, the city council has presented a new plan to tackle the ongoing crisis and solve the housing shortage by 2040. 

Amsterdam presents plan to solve housing shortage by 2040

On Monday, Zita Pels - the municipality representative for Public Housing - unveiled the Amsterdamse Aanpak Volkshuisvesting ("Amsterdam Approach to Public Housing"), or AAV; a provisional plan specifically designed to tackle the city’s housing crisis. 

The Dutch capital’s population has grown significantly over the past several decades. While there are currently around 921.000 people who call Amsterdam home, the figure is expected to exceed the 1 million mark by 2030. In addition to this, with many couples choosing to leave the city to raise a family, Amsterdam also faces an ageing population: by 2040, the number of Amsterdam residents over the age of 65 will rise from 116.000 to 175.000. 

The AAV therefore primarily focuses on improving the housing opportunities for the elderly and families earning low to middle salaries. The plan revolves around seven key goals: 

  • Building more residential properties.
  • Increasing the availability of affordable housing.
  • Ensuring those who are most in need are able to find suitable housing.
  • Improving the quality and sustainability of homes.
  • Ensuring properties are used “more appropriately”.
  • Improving the quality and amenities of Amsterdam neighbourhoods.
  • Improving the position of local residents on the Amsterdam housing market.

More affordable, sustainable and quality housing in the Dutch capital

But how will the municipality achieve these goals? The AAV presents a number of plans - some of which could potentially prove controversial among some groups. For starters, by ensuring 100 affordable properties - catered specifically to the elderly - are built every year, Pels hopes to encourage older members of the community to move to smaller properties, freeing up larger homes for young families: “Families can move into the houses they leave behind and they leave a starter home behind [for young professionals].”

Pels is also working on plans for a new permit that would require landlords with free sector properties of a rental value between 808 and 1.175 euros a month to only rent out homes to residents who have vacated a property classified as social housing. She also wants to investigate whether rental contracts for large family homes (at least four bedrooms) can include a clause that requires the family to move once all children have grown up and left home.

From 2024, the municipality intends to reverse the current legislation which prevents multiple individuals from signing the same rental agreement, thereby making it easier for individuals to share one property. Finally, Pels also wants to make it harder for landlords in the social sector to sell social housing - they’ll only be permitted to do so if they can prove “the neighbourhood is demonstrably improved” by the sale.

AAV doesn’t focus on needs of expats or international students

“A good, sustainable and affordable home is a basic necessity of life. But at the moment not all Amsterdammers have a good and affordable home in our city,” Pels says, arguing that the current state of the city’s housing market is a result of “very bad choices” that have been made over the last 10 to 15 years. 

In the long term, Pels would like the AAV to transform the Amsterdam housing market from a “revenue model” to a sustainable and affordable market, with those “for whom the city is or threatens to become unaffordable or inaccessible” at the heart of the plan. 

While this could be good news for some internationals living in the Dutch capital, AT5 points out that “the elderly, families, vulnerable groups and Amsterdammers with a low and middle income” are the focus, not “higher income earners, expats and international students.”

Thumb: Lama Saoudi via

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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