BPW is a union for precarious tenants, or ‘flex’ renters. ‘Flex’ is short for ‘flexible’. So who’s really being flexible here? While landlords sit on their hands collecting money from their properties, tenants are being bent over until they break. In these uncertain times, a ‘flex-contract’ is just the latest buzzword used to demolish your housing rights and to rent out temporarily with few housing security. To help you out, we made this easy checklist:
- Lease/loan for use, anti-squat (bruikleen en antikraak)
- Bridging lease (tijdelijk contract onder de Leegstandwet)
- Use ‘by its nature is of short duration’ (huur ‘naar aard van korte duur’)
- Renting a room from the person who owns or rents the property (Hospitaverhuur)
- Subletting or stewardship (Tussenhuur en huisbewaring)
- Illegal subletting or other illegal rentals (onderhuur of bewoning zonder contract)
- Temporary contract for independent residence (tijdelijk contract zelfstandige woning)
- Temporary contract for room rentals (tijdelijk contract kamers)
- Temporary contract for large families (tijdelijk contract grote gezinnen)
- Youth contract (jongerencontract)
Rents in the Netherlands are determined with a point system. In the last decades, much has been done to make housing more expensive and less accessible, such as adding points for the sale value of houses. However, there are still legal limits to how much rent a landlord can demand. The website real about rent offers a rent-check and practical advice on how to lower your rent when it is ‘unreasonable’.
Real estate agents other housing services might ask for a fee before they help you find a room. This is forbidden by Dutch law. Fees can be reclaimed up to 5 years after payment. This article tells you how to reclaim these fees. It is focused on Amsterdam but most of the links and letters used apply nationally
Not getting back deposits
As a foreigner who might move to another country, you are an easy target for deposit scams. While deposits are technically legal, the amount of money that can be withheld from a deposit is determined by law. A list of those reasons, as well as ways to get back your deposit,can be found here.
People who rent a house from a social housing corporation can legally sublet their house for a maximum of 2 years, but only with the permission from the owner. In these cases, rent should be the same as what the subletter pays the housing corporation, and you still have to register with the city as a resident. If there is no permission, no contract, or registering is not allowed, this is an illegal situation.
Illegal sublets are often twice or three times as expensive as usual (see high rent). If anyone finds out, including the neighbors, they can report you with the housing corporation and the subletter will be kicked out. The subletter is also subject to fines for up to 20.750 a piece, and in some cities is not allowed to register for social housing for a number of years. As a subtenant you are not breaking the law, and are sometimes even eligible to take over the contract. This is never guaranteed. In a situation like this, joining BPW is your best defence against homelessness.
Discrimination is not just illegal, it goes against the first article of the Dutch constitution. Some cases of discrimination are very clear: ‘no internationals’ or ‘no students’ are sometimes found in housing ads. Other forms may be more subtle. You can report discrimination anonymously here. Of course, discrimination is often embedded in other problems. The best way to fight housing problems is to get organised.
You can run but you can’t hide
Maybe you are still not convinced. You can always move somewhere else, right? Wrong! Housing rights are disappearing throughout Europe. BPW has joined housing action groups from Poland, UK, Spain, Germany and other EU countries in the European Action Coalition for the right to housing and the city to take on housing security at an international level.