Amsterdam homeowners fined €22,000 for violating city's buy-to-let ban
The city of Amsterdam issued six fines to homeowners for violating the partial ban on investors buying housing for the purpose of renting it out. The homeowners were each fined an average of about 22,000 euros, the city said in a statement on Wednesday. Those who continue to violate the policy on owner-occupied homes can be subject to further penalties of 43,000 euros.
Amsterdam implemented the new rule on April 1, which said that homes with an official valuation of 512,000 euros or less cannot be rented out for a period of four years after purchase. That amount rose to 533,000 euros at the start of the year. The regulation is meant to keep investors from snatching up housing stock, effectively cutting off first-time buyers from the market while charging exorbitant rental prices.
"At the end of 2022, we checked whether buyers were complying with this," the city said. The city referenced four specific examples, including a landlord in West who charged two foreign students a total of 2,000 euros per month, and a 2,000 euro deposit, with the agency involved in the deal adding another 2,000 euro finders fee. Such agency fees are also illegal, the city said. Another landlord rented a a small two-room property in Nieuw-West for 2,000 euros per month with a 3,000 euro deposit. In both cases, the rent was exclusive of utilities fees.
"In two illegally rented homes in Centrum and in Oost, the tenants of the illegally rented homes were promised that they would be allowed to buy the home after three years. For this, the tenants paid a guarantee of 27,000 euros and 30,000 euros respectively, which was to be be deducted from the sale price at the time of purchase."
All five of the biggest cities in the Netherlands have some form of buy-to-let ban, as do many other municipalities. The bans were allowed to be created after a change in Dutch law took effect on January 1 allowing cities to designate areas where investors could be prevented from buying homes to serve as rental properties. By August, 127 municipalities either had property speculation laws in place or were in the process of creating them. That amounts to over one-third of all municipalities.
Amsterdam's rules includes some exceptions. Homes may be rented out to immediate family members, or may be placed on the rental market on a temporary basis when the owner needs to leave for certain specific periods of time, like for international travel and work abroad. The city requires homeowners to apply for a permit in such cases.