Amsterdam holiday rentals harming neighborhoods, city losing out on millions in unpaid illegal rental fines: Report

A cloudy day in Amsterdam
A cloudy day in AmsterdamPhoto: alxbaev/DepositPhotos

Holiday rentals are harming Amsterdam neighborhoods, according to the Amsterdam Court of Audit. Reports of nuisance caused by tourists are not handled, and landlords feel "hunted" by complaints from neighbors. This can lead to disagreeable living situations. The city is also at risk of losing millions of euros in unpaid fines for housing fraud, the Court of Audit concluded, NU.nl and Het Parool report. 

According to the Amsterdam Court of Audit, most of the reports the municipality receives concern nuisance locals experience as a result of holiday rentals. Amsterdam residents don't feel safe in their own home, or struggle with a constant stream of tourists in the stairwell or in front of their door. But the municipality is not sending enforcement officers to deal with nuisance reports at this time, only taking action if there is housing fraud or fire risk.

Nuisance caused by holiday rentals deserves more attention, the Amsterdam Court of Audit concluded. The city's enforcement of the rules around renting your home to tourists is "reasonably good", but the municipality should give faster and better response to locals' complaints about problems caused by holiday rentals.

The Amsterdam Court of Audit also calculated that Amsterdam still has roughly 7 million euros in outstanding housing fraud fines issued in years past. A large part of these unpaid fines date from 2017 and 2018, a smaller part from 2016. Of the fines issued in the first half of this year, almost none have been paid as of yet. 

The collection of fines is a too lengthy process, according to the Court of Audit. Offenders generally wait for collection procedures and lawsuits before they pay, especially if the amounts involved are large. And there are also many fines that can't be collected because the offender went bankrupt or died. 

Alderman Laurens Ivens told Het Parool that Amsterdam is working on improving fine collection. For example, the municipality now handles direct debits by phone. In July, August and September, over 1 million euros in fines were collected in this way - almost as much as in the whole of 2018. "It appears to work well, but still needs to be better."

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