Monday April 13,
To the government and the House of Representatives,
With the 'emergency law extending temporary leases' the government puts the interests of property owners above the interests of public health and housing security of the population in general. If you make an emergency law, in the interest of housing security and public health, it must of course be valid and usable for everyone.
Especially in a housing and corona crisis, tenants need housing security, which landlords should offer. After all, if you don't have a home (anymore), you can't go into quarantine. The present law protects landlords who rent out temporarily in the context of the 'Lease Market Flow Act', so that they do not have to create a regular rental contract or offer it to tenants. The law therefore offers landlords a way out to be able to evict tenants, a little later, without rehousing. This is unacceptable, undesirable and insufficiently adequate.
Exclusion of precarious residents
The extensive group of residents, housing and contract forms that are not mentioned in this Act are not adequately protected at the moment. This emergency law and the minister's previously made letter of intent with 80% of the market currently do not provide enough.
Despite the intended purpose of this law (no one on the street in corona time), evictions and contract terminations are currently continuing. We get this every day alarming notifications. Tenants in constant housing stress simply no longer accept this uncertainty. Together with residents who - despite the impossibility to move now - are threatened with eviction, Bond Precaire Woonvorm demands housing security and a human solution for everyone affected by the housing and corona crises.
For an overview of most types of housing and contracts, see the gray card of housing insecurity at the very bottom or read the article “My rent or housing contract was canceled during the corona crisis. What can I do?"
Adequate legislation that protects everyone
The BPW therefore advocates a stop to evictions and contract terminations of all tenants and residents — regardless of housing and contract form. This therefore concerns both purchase, social rent, liberalized rent and temporary/flexible rent and people who live without tenancy rights. We ask you to make a law for everyone and not just for the approximately 20,000 flex rental contracts that have been drawn up on the basis of the Rental Market Flow Act according to the Temporary Rental Monitor (2018). With the law in its provisional form, you do not recognize that a large part of the population now lives in precarious/uncertain situations. We are faced with an unsustainable housing crisis that is driving a growing group of people to despair. Statistics Netherlands reported in August 2019 that the number of Dutch homeless youth had tripled to over 12,000 in three years.
We therefore have the following questions for you:
1. Why is there not a legal measure that applies to all residents of the Netherlands instead of only in specific situations for temporary tenants with a 'Lease Market Flow Act' contract?
(rental contracts of max. 2 years for non-independent housing and max. 5 years for non-independent housing)
2. Why have numerous exceptional situations been formulated even for these specific temporary contracts in order not to have to provide people with housing security?
(see specific comment on this law at the bottom of this letter)
3. Why is protecting the thousands of people who live with; a disguised rental contract (anti-squat with compensation), vacancy law contract, loan contract, campus contract, short-term rental contract, youth contract, people without a rental contract or tolerance construction, not guaranteed in this law?
4. Do you intend to offer housing security for all groups in the gray card below? If so, how? If not, why not? We would like to receive an answer and clarity per housing category.
5. Is Minister Van Veldhoven (Environment and Housing) of the opinion that this legislation is sufficiently understandable for all citizens to actually be able to exercise their rights — or do I actually have to be a lawyer to be able to apply this law?
6. Why does the government not opt for the protection of all its citizens through solid social security in an emergency, but for a route that requires active participation by tenants themselves in an emergency to obtain housing security?
(This seems to us the world upside down. After all, not everyone is a lawyer and aware of the latest ''customization'' legislation.)
7. Why is protecting specific landlord interests (by rewarding landlords with a circumvention option for offering a regular lease) placed above the broader interest of social (housing) security as a basic right for everyone?
In our view, this legislation does not stop the musical chairs with scarce living space and the virus is given the opportunity to spread further through unnecessary relocation.
BPW call for housing and livelihood security
The BPW therefore calls on the government and landlords to offer all residents housing security — especially those with precarious contracts. With the petition “Stop evictions. Housing security for everyone. Especially during the corona crisis”, we ask the government four things:
1. Stop all evictions
2. Offer rent/mortgage break and lower rents
3. Decent housing for the homeless and asylum seekers
4. Income security for everyone
Abolish the Rental Market Flow Act, not expand it
As with its introduction, we are still extremely negative about the Rental Market Transition Act, as this act already threatens the housing security of many Dutch people. The failure of this already partly demonstrates that this emergency law should be introduced at all. After all, with regular rental contracts, these kinds of problems would not have occurred at all.
Legally it is only possible to extend a temporary rental agreement to an agreement for an indefinite period. With this emergency law, this principle is abandoned and landlords are given numerous circumvention options to deviate from it. We considered that risk-increasing, unacceptable and undesirable.
We would like to remind you that when the 'Lease Market Flow Act' was introduced, it was firmly promised that “regular leases will remain the norm” and that a regular lease would follow a temporary lease.
This law makes it possible to connect flex contracts and evictions during the corona crisis
We therefore ask for a firm and explicit commitment that this law will not be made permanent. Do not abuse the corona crisis for further flexibilization of our right of residence. The BPW wants the 'Lease Market Flow Act' to be abolished instead of expanded. Prevent tenants from having to get down on their knees to the landlord every so often to apply for their own rental property. More and more people are working in the labor market with low-paid flexible jobs. This causes great insecurity, which permeates deeply into people's lives. Let us especially draw lessons from this: we certainly do not want to repeat this scenario, but now in the residential area?
Provide housing security for everyone — no category B and C tenants
Although any unnecessary relocation must now be prevented, this emergency law places too little emphasis on the responsibility of landlords for finding rehousing. Incidentally, this is not only the case with rental contracts under the 'Lease Market Flow Act', but with all forms of precarious and temporary housing (see gray card below).
Why is this responsibility and risk placed solely on the individual? can this actually be justified with a housing shortage of 300,000 homes and a doubling of homelessness in the last 10 years? Shouldn't we at least recognize that we are jointly responsible for this?
No urgent interest
So if there is an urgent interest in evicting in the middle of the corona crisis (which we dispute), then landlords will certainly have to offer an alternative — which they are usually also obliged to in case of forced departure with normal tenants. We see no reason to treat tenants differently and create a category B and C tenant. After all, this increases the already existing legal uncertainty and inequality in our society.
Stop all evictions
Landlords must, even now, always first start a lawsuit if they want to evict tenants. According to Gerechtshof.nl, this only seems to happen in so-called super-emergency cases.
This is how they say (1)(2): “Rental matters: until 1 June 2020, no eviction will be pronounced in residential cases (including cases in absentia and cases that have exhausted all legal remedies), with the exception of cases involving facts that make the case extremely urgent, such as criminal activities and serious nuisance.
We therefore ask you to guarantee that there will be no eviction court hearings at all — regardless of housing type/tenant or no-tenant.
And therefore also all contract terminations
There are currently still contract terminations of various types of “flex” residents. This causes a lot of stress. The expiry of a flex contract actually means; being forced to move with the threat of a lawsuit, including additional (court) costs, penalty clauses and lawyer fees. Then come the bailiffs and police who come to evict you from your house. For the category 'B tenants' also without rehousing and relocation allowance.
De facto contract termination therefore amounts to eviction
In addition, despite intentions, judgments issued earlier are still being executed. We expect landlords to stop with contract terminations and to respect tenants' rights of residence. We also find it irresponsible for bailiffs and the police to evict homes in the midst of a pandemic. However, we see that this is still happening. The emergency law does not talk about this. The government must now legally close this gap.
If we want to bring about good legislation in a housing and corona crisis, care is also required in addition to urgency;
That starts with government measures that safeguard the interests of the population, public health and housing security of all people living in the Netherlands.
We ask for your special attention to the situation that has currently arisen around the planned eviction of dozens of anti-squat tenants in Moerwijk East in The Hague.
Bond Precaire Woonvormen
For more information, please contact Abel Heijkamp via 06-47686543 or contact(at)bondprecairewoonvorm.nl.
Below we have listed our additional comments and questions about the law. To illustrate, we have summarized our comments by point:
The landlord does not have to temporarily extend the lease if:
1. The landlord has already sold the house and is obliged to transfer the house.
Comment BPW: Selling with a tenant in it is fine. Buying does not break rent, but this is no longer the case due to the rental market flow law. We therefore advocate the abolition of this law and not an extension by means of this emergency law, as it clearly weakens the legal position of tenants.
2. The landlord has already let the house again and the commencement date of the new lease is within the period of temporary extension requested by the tenant.
Comment BPW: Exchanging tenants for each other or a probationary period was explicitly not the intention of the Rental Market Flow Act; see also the explanatory memorandum on the introduction of the act. Cancellation is now made possible. This opens the door to abuse by explicitly enabling tenant redemption. This creates undesirable competition between tenants and they can be evicted/cancelled for someone who is willing/able to pay more. It is undesirable to make tenants interchangeable during a housing and corona crisis.
3 . The landlord wants to move into the house himself and has no other living space.
Comment BPW: Termination for urgent personal use is also an option with a regular rental contract. A reasonable term can be agreed with the tenant until after the corona crisis. For this, too, a statutory obligation to relocate will have to be anchored in the rental law in order to guarantee housing security.
4. The landlord wishes to renovate, whereby such renovation is not possible without termination of the lease, and he has contractually committed to start doing so.
Comment BPW: No one should be forced to move during the corona crisis. Nor do people who live in a house that needs renovation. Relocations pose too great a risk to public health (by inevitably bringing people together and giving the virus a chance to spread) and should therefore be postponed for the time being.
5. The landlord wants to demolish and he is contractually obliged to start doing so.
Comment BPW: If there is an emergency law against all evictions during the corona crisis, a landlord can invoke that this is a "non-culpable shortcoming" and that the demolition can be postponed.
- Tenants who were terminated (just) before 1 April due to, for example, sale, demolition or renovation are also unable to move. Involve all tenants in the emergency law.
- There is no extension of a temporary lease: people should be entitled to housing security instead of longer housing insecurity. Landlords should know their place as a host, especially now. Don't take advantage of the situation. Give people security, instead of handing out donuts to property owners.
- Include all types of housing in 1 scheme; illegal subletting, campus contracts, youth contracts, squatting, anti-squatting, camping occupancy (see gray card below).
- We demand that a law be passed that prohibits evictions and gives residents housing security. The present emergency law makes so many exceptions that in practice contract terminations and evictions will still take place, which, according to the motivation behind this law, should not be the intended result.