Amsterdam to block vacation rentals in some neighborhoods to tackle housing shortage

Amsterdam is changing its Housing Regulations in an effort to tackle the problems in the local housing market. Some of the main changes proposed for 2020 include a quota on Bed & Breakfasts, banning holiday rentals in certain areas, giving young locals and healthcare and education staff priority for rental housing, and limiting room-based rentals to create more space for families, the city said in a press release. 

The Red Light District, Haarlemmerbuurt, and the Kinkerbuurt are among the first neighborhoods in the city where Airbnb and other vacation rentals could be banned, Housing alderman Laurens Ivens said to the Telegraaf. Other parts of the city could also face similar tight rules.

"In Amsterdam there is a dire shortage of homes. Many homes are now used as a profit object by tourist rentals or converted into rooms and rented out for maximum prices", Ivans said in a statement. "A home is meant to be lived in and not as a profit object. This package of measures is needed to curb the craziness on the market and to keep Amsterdam livable for everyone."

The city's first goal is to prevent more living spaces being rented through platforms like Airbnb, Booking or Expedia. From next year onwards, all Bed & Breakfasts must a apply for a permit from the municipality, and there will be a maximum number of permits for each neighborhood. The permits will be valid for five years. B&Bs that registered with the municipality before 2019 will get a grace period of two years, during which they can function under the old rules. 

Another change is that from next year on, only the owner of a property can operate a B&B only if they reside at that location. This is to prevent one owner operating multiple B&Bs in the city. The city is also changing the Housing Regulations so that houseboats fall under the same rules as other homes. This means that from next year, houseboat owners will also have to register with the municipality if they rent their homes out to tourists. 

The municipality is currently also looking into whether vacation rentals are putting the quality of life under pressure in a number of neighborhoods. The city will use the results of this study to decide whether a general ban on holiday rentals is needed in certain areas. 

The city could also put an end to the practice of buying up apartments and then renting out each individual bedroom instead of the home as a whole unit. According to Amsterdam, renting a single room may be a solution to finding living space in the overheated housing market, but it also means that there is less space for families in the city, and having too many people living in one home affects the quality of life of neighbors. To make sure that there is a good balance between rooms for rent and independent homes on the Amsterdam market, the city will introduce a quota to determine the maximum number of room rental permits that can be issued per district and building.  

Amsterdam wants to help local young people make a start on the housing market, by giving young locals priority for rental properties specifically intended to young people. The city also wants to designate homes for which people working in healthcare and education can be given priority.