Thousands of complaints about upcoming rent increase
Housing associations received thousands of complaints from tenants about the upcoming rent increase. Rents will increase by an average of 2.5 percent on July 1. The associations attribute the around 30 percent increase in complaints to tenants being more uncertain about their future income due to the coronavirus crisis, and extensive attention to the increase in politics and the media, they said to BNR.
The broadcaster spoke to the Netherlands' nine largest housing corporations - Ymere, Rochdale, Portaal, Vestia, Eigen Haard, Woonstad Rotterdam, Havensteder, Alliantie, and Staedion. They alone received a total of 4,500 complaints.
Earlier in the coronavirus crisis, tenants’ organizations called for rents to be frozen for the time being, as many tenants expected financial problems due to the coronavirus. A number of opposition parties also called for this. Minister Kasja Ollongren of Home Affairs instead opted for a call on housing corporations to be lenient on tenants facing real financial difficulties.
“That is a very narrow look at what affordable housing is,” Marcel Trip of tenants’ organization Woonbond said to BNR. “There are many things that people cut back on before they think: I can’t afford rent. They cut back on daily groceries, their sports club, or turn down the heating.”
While complaints about the imminent rent increase skyrocketed, only about 1 percent of tenants asked their housing corporation for a deferment or a payment arrangement. The corporations believe this is because the coronavirus crisis put few tenants in real financial trouble.
But according to Trip, it is more likely because tenants have very few rights. “With a payment arrangement you have to be lucky for the landlord to think along with you. The minister only made a moral appeal to the rental sector. You first have to find that you are having a hard time and then the landlord must agree with you,” he said to the broadcaster.