Sustainability plans for Amsterdam flats faltering over homeowner association fights
Plans to make thousands of Amsterdam apartments and flats more sustainable are faltering because the homeowners’ associations can’t agree on what to do, interest group VvE Bond warned in a new report. Because apartment owners can’t agree on sustainable heating alternatives, for example, many just keep buying new gas boilers, Parool reports.
Apartment owners in Amsterdam are usually bound by a consultation structure, the owners’ association (VvE), in which they jointly decide on major maintenance. According to the interest group for these associations, the VvE Bond, solar panels, heat pumps, or connecting to the heating network fall under “major maintenance.” And the VvEs are often unable to reach an agreement.
That is a significant problem, the VvE Bond pointed out. Roughly half of the owners of Amsterdam’s housing stock are in VvEs. The owners of 230,000 homes belong to the over 21,000 VvEs the VvE Bond covers.
In its report titled “Fossil Fuel to Fossil Fuel,” the VvE Bond detailed four recent examples of VvEs from different parts of Amsterdam not disconnecting from the gas network but buying new gas boilers instead. One of these examples involves a housing complex in Osdorp, which replaced its oil-fired boiler with a gas boiler while Vattenfall and the municipality’s heat network was within easy reach. According to the Vve Bond, it’s unlikely that this VvE will have any interest in an alternative heat source until well after 2040.
According to the VvE Bond, the VvEs - which it describes as “a board of volunteer amateurs” - have too much responsibility with too little practical help and guidance from the municipality and government.
“We can’t get this job done like this,” said Annet Terpstra of the VvE Bond. At the current pace, the municipality won’t meet its climate goals, and residents will be stuck with high energy costs. According to the VvE Bond, there is not a single known example in Amsterdam of a VvE with fully sustainable homes from before 1995.
According to alderman Zita Pels (Public Housing), it’s good that the VvE Bond is drawing attention to this problem. “It shows the dilemmas we face in the inevitable energy transition. The municipality is fully committed to providing advice and support for homeowners. VvEs are one of the priorities in the insulation offensive that we started last year.”