On Wednesday, September 2, 2 young tenants from The Hague, together with the Bond Precaire Woonvorm and dozens of sympathizers, protested in front of the head office of real estate investor Orange Capital Partners (OCP) on the Minervalaan in Amsterdam. Their main demands on OCP were housing security and a fair rent after their temporary lease was given and they had to leave their home, and they have largely been able to claim these rights!
The two tenants discovered themselves that they probably paid too much rent for their home and started proceedings with the rent committee. After having paid rent properly for a year, OCP decides not to renew their lease, without giving any reason. Requests for clarification were initially not answered at all and later barely answered. It was only late that it became clear that termination of the contract would be necessary to make the house more sustainable. It was not clear why tenants were not informed and why it was not possible to discuss this earlier. Tenants' proposals to carry out the renovations in an inhabited state were also not heard. Just after it announcing a campaign with the BPW to claim their right of residence, they were suddenly offered a private sector house that was too expensive for them elsewhere. However, due to a drop in income as a result of the corona crisis, it was necessary for the couple to be able to (continue to) rent a home for a social rent, so offering a free sector home would not solve anything. Read the whole story the article about the eviction from last week.
The tenants decided to continue the campaign and to mobilize broadly among neighborhood groups as well as (inter)national action groups. There was flyered in The Hague in neighborhoods where OCP is active, talked to residents and last Wednesday protested in front of the real estate investor's office to hand over the tenants' demands. After several speeches by tenants and members of the BPW, the two tenants, together with a representative of the BPW, were invited by OCP to discuss a new offer that largely met the tenants' demands.
Housing struggle pays off
It is not a complete victory, the couple still has to move. But after a good conversation with OCP, the landlord has come to a solution together with the tenants and the tenants now have a view of housing security and a fair rent and homelessness has been prevented for these young people in corona time. Both parties have agreed to a newly offered social rental home for an indefinite period of time, at a rent of €550 per month. They have also probably paid €300 per month too much rent for a year and when the rent committee makes a final decision on this, this amount will also be paid back by OCP. The question is whether their old home will still be rented out socially after it has been made more sustainable by OCP.
Housing insecurity is policy
Orange Capital Partners still owns about 5000 homes and says that, in addition to building new homes, it also focuses on: social housing that can be liberalized, which will not benefit the large shortage of social housing. Temporary contracts made possible by the Rental Market Transition Act can speed up this process and create major uncertainties for tenants. In short; the broader battle for housing security has not yet been won and we will also submit our demands for fundamental solutions to politicians to prevent even more people from entering or remaining in housing insecurity due to overpriced, insecure or temporary rental housing.
The Bond Precaire Woonvorm therefore makes the following demands on politicians:
1. Stop facilitating housing insecurity and exploitation through the Rental Market Transition Act and make regular rental contracts the norm again.
2. Prevent homelessness by exchanging one tenant for another.
3. Make the points system binding and make it an economic offense when landlords charge too much rent.
4. Homes for people, not for profit! Stop the sale and conversion of social rental housing into free sector housing with temporary rental contracts by real estate investors and market parties.
Together for housing security
Nick, Stefany and the BPW thank everyone who came to protest or showed solidarity: Special thanks go to: Floorwork, AGA Amsterdam, Vrije Bond, Breakthrough, Tenants' Interest South, Not for Sale, Tenants' Association Oud West, Action Group Kraken continues, BPW The Hague, BPW Amsterdam, Nieuwland, The Action Fund, Revolutionary Unity, International Socialists, European Action Coalition for the right to housing and the city, Right to City groups from Spain to Romania and everyone who attended.
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