On Wednesday the 2nd of September, 2 young tenants from The Hague claimed their housing right together with the Bond Precaire Woonvormen and tens of supporters in front of the head office of real estate investor Orange Capital Partners (OCP) on the Minervalaan in Amsterdam. Their most important demands to OCP were housing security and a fair rental price, after a year of paying too much rent for their temporary house, and they have managed to mainly claim these rights!
The two tenants discovered they were paying too much rent for their apartment and started a procedure at the Huurcommissie to get their rent down. After a year of renting OCP decides to terminate their temporary contract, without reason. Requests from the tenants to clarify their decision weren’t answered at first and only partially later on in the process. The termination of the contract was suddenly necessary to renovate the apartment to make it more sustainable. Why the tenants weren’t informed on this earlier or why they weren’t consulted on the subject didn’t became clear. Proposals from the tenants to renovate the house in collaboration with the tenants so they could keep their current apartment were not heard by the investment agency. Shortly after announcing a campaign to claim their housing rights together with the BPW they suddenly got the offer for a too expensive house elsewhere, which wouldn’t solve anything. Read more about it in the initial article.
The tenants decided to continue their action and to mobilise support from their neighbourhood, but also from (inter)national groups. There was a flyer action in The Hague, they talked to other local residents and last Wednesday they protested in front of the office of OCP to deliver their demands. After some speeches from tenants and members of the BPW, the two tenants went in together with a representative from the BPW to talk with OCP about a new proposal in which their demands where largely met.
Housing Action Pays Off
We can’t claim a complete victory, the two tenants still need to move, but they claimed housing security by agreeing to a social house with an indefinite contract, with a monthly rent of €550,- a month. They also paid €300,- excess rent a month for their old apartment and they should receive this excess rent back when the Huurcommissie makes a final judgement on their situation. The question if their old apartment will keep the social housing price after the renovation remains unanswered.
“Because we started this action we went from a situation in which we were going to be homeless in 2 months without substitute housing to a situation in which we actually got substitute housing on a indefinite social housing contract. Even though we still have to move, this is an amazing result of our fight for housing rights. Hopefully we showed that even when legislation abandons you, you can still claim your rights!”Nick, (ex)flextenant
Policy of Housing Insecurity
Orange Capital Partners has another 5000 properties in their possession and says they are among others things focusing on social housing that can be liberalised, which won’t help the huge shortage on social housing in the Netherlands. Temporary contracts that are made possible by the law Doorstroming Huurmarkt speed up this process and cause big housing insecurities with tenants. In short; the wider fight for housing security isn’t won yet and we will keep demanding more fundamental solutions for this problem in parliament, to prevent more people from living in insecure, expensive or temporary housing.
The Bond Precaire Woonvormen therefore has the following demands for the responsible politicians:
1. Stop facilitating housing insecurity and exploitation as a result of the Wet Doorstroming Huurmarkt and make indefinite contracts the norm again.
2. Prevent homelessness by exchanging one tenant for another.
3. Make the scoring system legally binding and make it an economic offence when landlords charge more rent than they are legally allowed to.
4. Houses for people, not for profit! Stop selling and converting social housing into free sector housing with temporary rental contracts by real estate investors and commercial parties.
Together for Housing Rights
Nick, Stefany and the BPW thank everyone who supported our campaign in person or showed solidarity online. Special thanks to: Vloerwerk, AGA Amsterdam, Vrije Bond, Doorbraak, Huurdersbelang Zuid, Niet te Koop, Huurdersvereniging Oud West, Actiegroep Kraken gaat door, BPW Den Haag, BPW Amsterdam, Nieuwland, Het Actiefonds, Revolutionaire Eenheid, Internationale Socialisten, European Action Coalition for the right to housing and the city, Right to the City groups from Spain to Romania and everyone who was present last Wednesday.
Also want to become a member of the BPW? Apply here!
Are you also paying rent to Vivada Properties, Orange Capital Partners or any other big real estate investor and are you in a precarious housing situation because of this? Please share your story with us! firstname.lastname@example.org