Netherlands indeed has 63,000 vacant homes: Fact Check
During a gathering in The Hague in February, GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver stated that approximately 63,000 homes are vacant in the Netherlands. As a solution to the vacancy problem, he suggested a vacancy tax, comparable to a tax levied in Vancouver, Canada. There the tax decreased the vacancy rate by 25 percent. Research by ANP, Nieuwscheckers, and Pointer showed that Klaver's claims are correct.
On 20 February of this year, GroenLinks held a meeting in The Hague about the housing crisis. In the run-up to the municipal elections, the party organizes various gatherings on important social issues. Jesse Klaver spoke in THe Hague. "There is an awful lot of vacancy. In the Netherlands, about 63,000 homes are empty," he said. The GroenLinks leader illustrated the magnitude of the problem with a comparison. "That is as like the entire municipality of Leeuwarden not being inhabited for more than a year. And that while so many people are looking for a house." According to GroenLinks, the solution to this problem is a vacancy tax. "We already know this works! The city of Vancouver has had a vacancy tax for three years. And as a result, the vacancy has fallen 25 percent."
Statistics Netherlands published the National Vacancy Monitor on 26 November 2021. This provided insight into the vacancy rate of homes and non-homes in all municipalities, districts, and neighborhoods in the Netherlands. According to these figures (measured on 1 January 2021), 63,170 homes in the Netherlands have been vacant for a year. Other data from Statistics Netherlands showed that the municipality of Leeuwarden had 63,067 homes on 1 January 2021, so the comparison holds.
Vancouver introduced the Empty Homes Tax, aimed at tackling real estate speculation and foreign homeownership, in 2017. At its introduction, homeowners had to pay 1 percent tax on vacant homes. The tax has now been increased to 3 percent. A report on the effects of the implementation of the tax in December 2021 showed that the number of vacant homes fell by 26 percent between 2017 and 2020.
This fact check was part of a collaboration project between ANP, Pointer, and Nieuwscheckers. This project aims to check statements and allegations for factual correctness in the run-up to the municipal elections.
Reporting by ANP.