The Bond Precaire Woonvorm stands up for the interests of people who live in temporary, insecure or too expensive housing. Recently there is also a Leiden department. Last weekend, BPW Leiden gave the starting signal by holding a flyer campaign at the former Stadsbouwhuis on the Langegracht. Nearly 100 Leiden residents live here on very uncertain contracts.
The national association Bond Precaire Woonvorm (BPW) is a local group richer. Following the example of Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Den Bosch, Leiden now also has its own department. The BPW has been working for more than 10 years to claim the housing rights of the growing group of people who live in housing insecurity, without a permanent lease.
Tenants increasingly receive temporary and uncertain leases under the guise of, among other things, 'vacancy management' or the Rental Market Flow Act. An undesirable development within public housing, because these kinds of “throw-away contracts” have major consequences for tenants. This skewed power relationship has given landlords too much power. This leads to unsafe situations in which people can easily be evicted without being entitled to alternative accommodation. Due to the growing scarcity of social housing and more flexible housing rights, tenants experience a structural lack of control and security over their home and existence.
This is also the case in the Stadsbouwhuis on the Langegracht, a former office building owned by the municipality of Leiden. At the beginning of 2020, the municipality handed over the property to anti-squat agency Villex. “We received a report that the problems started on day one of the project,” says Bo from BPW Leiden. “The future residents of the Stadsbouwhuis were asked to draw 'blind'. In other words; they were not allowed to view the house beforehand. They had to pay in advance. When people saw that the promised kitchen was not there at all and that there were only two showers for 60+ residents, people withdrew from the project. They could then whistle for their money.”
The lack of tenancy rights means that anti-squat agency Villex can just evict someone. “Normally, a landlord can't just throw you out,” says Bo. “But Villex thinks they have that right, because they call themselves 'lender'. No one may be evicted without a court order. So don't be intimidated and organize yourself in such a case together with BPW Leiden. Together you can tackle such abuse of power.”
BPW Leiden takes action
BPW Leiden held a flyer campaign last weekend at the building on the Langegracht. “At the request and with the help of a resident, we are making an inventory of the complaints of current and former residents in the building,” says Bo. He calls on people who are affected by the housing crisis in Leiden to contact the Bond.