Thousands of houses no longer rent-controlled
The rental prices on tens of thousands of social housing units in the Amsterdam region are going up as these houses enter the private sector and are no longer rent-controlled, as reported in the Volkskrant. Housing associations in Utrecht, Leiden and Culemborg have also increased rents substantially.
These price increases are the result of changes in the rules used to determine housing prices. Earlier this year the government decided to introduce a new system which allows landlords in places where rental housing is scarce to increase their rents.
The rental price of social housing is based on a system of points. If the points on a house add up such that the price exceeds 664 euros per month, then landlords are allowed to charge whatever rent they want.
The new rules introduced the so-called scarcity points (schaarstepunten, also referred to as Donnerpunten). Since October 1, 2011, social houses in 144 municipalities with relatively high housing prices have seen their point totals go up by around 15 to 25, based on the property value. With an extra 15 or 25 points, rent on a house can be increased by 73 or 123 euros, respectively.
In the centre of Amsterdam, monthly rents have increased by over 100 euros on average. With the new higher prices, over 20 percent of the social housing in Amsterdam now costs more than 664 euros per month, and is no longer subject to rent control.
In het Gooi, Amersfoort, Wageningen and Haarlem many cheap rental houses have also become considerably more expensive, based on research by Volkskrant of the Amsterdam and Utrecht federation of housing associations and more than 10 housing associations with property elsewhere in the country.
However, note that not all housing corporations are making use of new system, and some are still working on the implementation of the rental price increase. Also, the higher prices only apply to new tenants, while existing tenants continue to pay the old amount.
The Tenants Association of Amsterdam and the Woonbond denounced the price increases in August in a report entitled Meldpunt Donnerhuren.
Outgoing Minister of the Interior Liesbeth Spies responded this month by stating that explosive rent increases are not occurring as a result of the Donnerpunten, claiming that the report was not representative.