A rent striker in a working-class neighborhood in Amsterdam playfully reveals which neighbors continue to pay the rent in 1933 | www.memoryvannederland.nl
With the new rent law, the umpteenth blow is dealt in the face of social housing, of the tenants and the house seekers who will pay the price for this. Real estate capital is laughing in the hand.
By Guest blogger Hugo Gietelink
The proposal by VVD Minister Blok for more temporary leases and additional rent increases was accepted by the House of Representatives earlier this month. A large majority of, among others, VVD, PvdA, CDA, D66, CU and SGP voted in favour. Although the new rent law still has to be passed by the Senate, there is a real chance that the Senate will also agree because the factions that voted in favor in the House of Representatives also have a majority within the Senate.
The changes include an extension of temporary contracts subject to conditions. Contracts of up to two years are possible. Temporary leases for five years in dependent homes for young people up to the age of 27 were also accepted by the House.
All tenants must again take into account additional rent increases on top of inflation this year. These rent increases will continue after 2017 with an additional 4 percent for tenants (excluding retirees and larger families) with a combined annual income of more than 39,874 euros. The Council of State's objection to these (income-related) 'peeping increases' has been undone with new regulations.
The advance of temporary contracts is seriously undermining the legal position of tenants. The important legal principle that you as a tenant have in order to be able to continue living in your house just like the buyer for as long as you want is affected by this. Due to the temporary nature of the contract, the living situation is uncertain. This has profound consequences for the quality of life, for the way in which the tenant relates to the home and the neighbourhood, as well as for the neighborhood community, which changes with the increase of rapidly changing residents.
How different is that with fixed rental contracts. These tenants can invest in the quality of their home for the longer term because of the certainty of being allowed to continue living. Due to the longer duration of stay, they become more familiar with and connected to the home and the living environment and thus make a better contribution to social life in the neighbourhood.
The use of temporary leases is not new. We have been familiar with the scheme for years for major demolition and renovation projects, in which some of the sitting tenants with permanent leases are evicted to make room for temporary tenants under the Vacancy Act. This is to ensure that the buildings are not squatted and that additional income is also provided by paying rent.
With new regulations of the adopted rental law, this situation is now being expanded. For example, there will be a kind of youth contract for five years (for non-self-contained homes). The idea behind such a contract is that after completing your studies or first years of work you move on to a more expensive rental or owner-occupied home. This assumes that you can pay more after five years. Whether you are actually able to do that or not, whether you are satisfied with your dependent home and would like to stay there for longer than five years, does not count.
In addition, landlords are given the right to offer tenants of independent living accommodation a two-year contract. The purpose of such a short-term contract is to help homeowners sell homes so that they can collect the maximum asking price while waiting for new buyers. Because the contract expires, the owner has the option to sell the house empty. Here too, the temporary tenant is used as a kind of squatters' guard, in this case to ensure that the selling price of the house is supported.
In addition to broadened options for temporary rental, the policy is to continue with additional rent increases on top of the annual inflation adjustment. This does not only apply to tenants of housing from housing associations (who in turn contribute part of this as a landlord levy to the state finances), but it also applies to tenants of private real estate capital, whereby pawnbrokers with less than ten rental properties receive this gift without any required consideration. for the full one hundred percent in their own pocket.
The extra rent increases are for tenants with lower incomes, but even more for tenants with average or above average incomes who partly occupy a housing association with old contracts. The policy is aimed at driving these middle groups out of social housing in order to achieve greater returns from the private sector and to strengthen the demand for owner-occupied homes. It is argued that social housing would only be for lower incomes, but that was introduced to cut costs and contradicts the history of social housing policy.
Social housing has also been created for the educated, higher-earning middle management. As if these tenants have made a mistake today, they are intimidated with the term 'skewed residents'. It is said that people with lower incomes benefit from this, with the argument that social housing then becomes available to them. This does not apply as soon as, as a result of a change, the rent skyrockets, the house ends up in the free sector or is sold, or to make way for expensive new construction.
This skewed ideology has proved so effective with its suggestion that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burdens. In fact, it helps to break down social housing and drive a wedge between different groups of tenants. It also erodes the collective provision with tenants from lower and middle incomes. The inconsistency in the scheefwoon story is striking. Tenants with higher incomes and low housing costs live skewed. Homeowners in the same situation live right. Nice example of discriminatory use of words.
Power for the banks
The new bills to undermine rent protection and encourage home ownership are essentially a continuation of the neoliberal housing policy that has gripped the Netherlands for the past 25 years. Recently, this price has threatened to collapse under the violence of the credit crisis in 2008 and the enormous economic problems that resulted from it, which have also severely affected the interests of real estate capital and private homeowners.
The fairy tale that house prices always rise quickly came to an end as a result of the economic crisis. The housing bubble created by large-scale speculation that allowed homeowners to make huge profits from the 1990s to 2008 burst. As a result, the selling prices of the houses fell sharply.
Against this background, it becomes clear why tenant rights are being attacked; the problems of the owner-occupied housing market have been put on the tenants' plate. The tenants pay in the form of additional rent increases and the breakdown of housing rights to help stop the collapse of the housing market. Now that selling prices are rising again, this process continues and makes those price increases even faster.
Former bank director Stef Blok (Wonen and Rijksdienst) does not choose for nothing. With more expensive rental and owner-occupied homes, it's checkout! for his supporters. More flexible contracts, more control over the use of the homes, more opportunities to get unwelcome tenants out, more income for owners, sellers, real estate investors and banks that can earn money again with new mortgage loans.
Fighting a housing shortage
But the housing issue will not be solved this way. More mortgage and rent also means more payment obligations and debt. Because housing costs are rising faster than the income development of tenants and home seekers, as well as of a large part of the new buyers who take on a substantial mortgage debt with house prices rising again. This creates friction, the same situation that gave rise to the credit crisis of 2008, which initially started as a payment problem for excessive housing costs and caused a new housing shortage.
That history is now repeating itself. Time to change course, not to be intimidated but to be inspired by the genesis of social housing. When the most appalling living conditions were effectively combated by protest, action and by joining forces.
Housing is a necessity and as such should be available to everyone without any worries as a basic provision. Instead of sacrificing it to capitalist interests, the starting point should be the preservation and expansion of social housing, with the accompanying legal certainty for residents as a broad collective basic provision. No demolition, but construction. That's the choice, you have to change course!
Source: This article originally appeared on havoc