(For a Dutch version of the text, click here)
Tenants of the former fire station on Laanslootseweg 19, a building owned by the municipality of Rotterdam and currently leased to Camelot, organise themselves against the imminent threat of eviction and demand housing security. Laurens and Rob have been living in the building for 4 years and Steffan has lived there for only 10 weeks. On the 26th of November they will be evicted. In order to prevent this, the BPW alongside the tenants, have begun a campaign for housing security.
The tenants are taking action because they do not want to become homeless. They want the municipality to follow the urgent advice from the central government which is to stop all evictions from taking place during the Corona crisis.
The tenants have been paying more than 950 euros per month to Camelot for 4 years which cannot be explained purely in terms of utility and service costs. In other words: the tenants have simply been paying rent all this time and so have the right to claim rent protection.
“How can we go into quarantine if we don’t have a house anymore?”
– Station tenant Laurens
It is unclear what, and in which time frame, will happen with the building. Until now, questions from tenants have not been answered and no reasonable grounds for such a rapid eviction, with a notice period of 28 days, have been provided. Camelot states that the building is sold but according to the urban development department of the municipality itself, this is not the case. The department has explained that they intend to use it for themselves but without offering any clarity for what purpose. Questions from the tenants about this have also not been answered and the municipality has refused to engage further in a discussion on this topic. Furthermore, the municipality does not offer any solution for their precarious housing situation. Possible plans have never been communicated transparently. Just 10 weeks before the contract cancellation, a new resident was placed in the building.
No say or certainty
Laurens: “Our situation is telling of how Camelot deals with tenants. We hardly have any say or certainty. We are maintaining this building for 4 years and on top of this paying a considerable amount per month to Camelot. It is a disaster: no alternative housing offered; no transparent communication; a contract with numerous unreasonable clauses including those which overstep the boundaries of our privacy and they also provide information that turns out to be incorrect.” The current housing crisis is giving Steffan headaches: “Finding affordable housing in the region is super difficult, especially now that the waiting lists are growing as a result of political policy. We won’t let ourselves be made homeless, we also deserve decent housing!”
The station tenants and the Union for Precarious Living Conditions therefore demand that the municipality of Rotterdam and Camelot:
- Stop the eviction and offer the tenants housing security
- Offer a (re-)housing guarantee based in Rotterdam
This questionable case is not unique. Camelot has been treating tenants inhumanely for years now. This makes it all the more striking that the municipality is still doing business with them regarding the management of their real estate. Just last year, local council and parliamentary questions were raised about Camelot’s dubious practices when 50 people were suddenly made homeless. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the BPW has received hundreds of reports from (flex-)tenants who have been forced to leave their homes in the midst of the Corona crisis, including buildings belonging to the municipality.
Stop evictions by law
A legal ban on all evictions is desperately needed to bridge the winter period during the crisis. Certainly during a global pandemic, it is the duty of the government to guarantee the right to an affordable and safe housing situation for everyone. Precisely flex-tenants and other precarious tenants with unfair contracts should have the benefit of extra protections. Minister of Housing Kajsa Ollongren must now take immediate responsibility for this before even more abuse occurs (2009)(2013)(2014)(2019)(2020). What kind of city do we live in if the municipality continues to avoid its duties and responsibilities in this regard and continues to make people homeless in the middle of a pandemic? And why does the municipality still do business with a company that does not heed rental legislation and also receives a lot of (inter)national criticism? In Flanders, the Minister of Housing has recently stated that they have lost all confidence in Camelot. The municipality of Rotterdam and the department of urban development must protect all Rotterdammers! They must immediately stop hiding behind and outsourcing to dubious management companies such as Camelot, who through use of unfair contracts, ensure people are without their rights so that they can be evicted from their homes upon request.
Show solidarity: together for housing security!
You can help the tenants by spreading this message on social media and also by writing to Camelot and the municipality. It is high time to take action in support of each other if we want to prevent even more people from ending up on the street during the Corona and housing crisis.
Therefore, a first action is planned on Tuesday the 17th of November at 13:00. We will deliver our demands to the Councillor of Housing, Bas Curvers (VVD) and demand a social solution.
- Date: Tuesday 17th November
- Time: 13:00
- Place: Stadhuis Rotterdam, Coolsingel 40
See the facebook event for more.
Corona measures during the action
Banners and protest signs are very welcome and don’t forget your face mask! As well as the delivering of demands, there will be some short speeches made. In accordance with the Corona measures, we will keep a distance of 1.5 meters and disinfection gel will be provided. The BPW will provide face masks for anyone who does not have one.
For more info, questions or contact with the tenants, please get in touch with us: firstname.lastname@example.org or call BPW spokesperson Abel Heijkamp: 06-47686543.
Update: Laanslootseweg fire station tenants achieve their first result!
As a direct result of taking action, standing up for themselves and confronting Camelot and the Gemeente directly with demands living security, the fire station renters have stopped the November 26th eviction! Direct action gets the goods!
Public pressure and attention has been brought to this shameless eviction attempt by a broad coalition of organisations who came together to support the fire station tenants. Thanks goes out to the Woonbond, SP Rotterdam, Open Rotterdam, Dagblad010, European Action Coalition, Huize Ivicke Autonoom, Cultural Workers Unite, Huurders Charlois and of course, the other local BPW groups.
This is how we win – working together to demand living security.
We will continue to work with the fire station tenants until they achieve all their demands.