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Dutch senate backs extending rent controls to more homes

Legislation to bring more homes under the Dutch rent control system have been approved by the senate and are set to become law in the Netherlands on July 1.

Government officials say the new rules will result in some 90% of Dutch rental housing falling under some form of rent control although they will only apply to new tenancies.

Landlords and property developers have been campaigning to have the plans put on ice, arguing that the new measures will discourage investors from entering the affordable housing market.

Affordable new homes

In an effort to appease investors, housing minister Hugo de Jonge has agreed that developers who start work on new rental properties from now up to 2028 will be able to charge a premium of 10% on top of the official rise for a period of 20 years. The official annual rent rise will be based on either inflation or average wage increases plus 1%.

Senators also agreed to an assessment of the new legislation within three years.

Points for more amenities

In effect, De Jonge is hiking the current maximum rent in the rent-controlled sector from €879 per month to €1,157 – based on the number of points a property is worth.

At the moment landlords have free choice in deciding the rent of property which is calculated to be worth more than 143 points in the regulatory system. Homes with fewer points are classed as social housing with a maximum price of €879 per month and only open to people on low incomes.

De Jonge’s new maximum will be between 186 points, which means far more properties will fall under rent controls. Points are awarded for amenities such as the number of bedrooms, whether or not the apartment has luxury bathroom fittings, and the age of the property.

The point system is also being overhauled to give more weight to high energy labels, outside space, and the quality of kitchens and bathrooms.

Lower rents for new tenants?

Ministry officials estimate the rent of some 300,000 homes will go down an average of €190 when a new tenant moves in, and that 113,000 additional homes will become rent-controlled.

Currently, 57% of the Dutch housing stock is owner-occupied, 33% is rent-controlled and just 9% is available for people earning more than €40,000 who wish to rent. Housing corporations own the bulk of the rental properties but 1.2 million are in the hands of private investors, many of whom just own a couple of apartments as a pension.

De Jonge’s successor Mona Keijzer, who takes over as housing minister on July 1, opposes the new rent controls but says she will abide by the senate decision.

Some 180,000 new homes have been built in the Netherlands during the past two years, and 800,000 more must be built by 2030, of which 60% will be classed as “affordable”. Many of them will be built at 35 locations nationwide which have been earmarked for development in agreements signed between the minister and local authorities.

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Holland Metropole @Provada June 11, 12 and 13, RAI exhibition centre Amsterdam

Holland Metropole cities, developers and investors are again taking part at the annual Dutch real estate fair Provada, which runs for three days from June 11 at the RAI exhibition centre in Amsterdam. 

Holland Metropole members are also involved in many of the events in the busy trade fair programme and networking events.  

AM chief executive Ronald Huikeshoven will be talking about what can be done to restore the balance in the Dutch housing market while Boris van der Gijp, director Achmea Real Estate will focus on building homes for seniors. Bouwinvest’s director Mark Siezen will be discussing social and affordable housing on Wednesday morning along with BPD’s European chief Harm Janssen.

The Van Wijnen group has a packed programme with a special focus on mid-market rentals on Thursday, while Heijmans is focusing on “talking with passion” with a string of sessions covering the importance of biodiversity, social cohesion, and dealing with homelessness.

On the city front, on Wednesday lunch time, Fakton hosts a G5 debate between the five big Dutch cities, focusing on the complexity of urban development in high density areas, the role of national government and the need for public private partnerships, such as the Holland Metropole alliance.

Amsterdam has a busy programme of events, including a focus on waterfront redevelopment and timber based building. The Hague city council is hosting a panel discussion on how the influx of international workers and students impact on housing and what can be done to create more homes quickly.

On Wednesday at 10 am Eindhoven housing chief Mieke Verhees will be joined by representatives of the home affairs ministry and ASML to discuss Project Beethoven, the government’s roll-out of special measures to encourage international firms to stay in the region.

The fair will be officially opened by caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge who has been pressing through market reforms, such as expanding rent controls and slashing red tape, not all of which have been popular with the sector. De Jonge will also expand on his views on the future of public housing at a session on Tuesday afternoon.

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Private investors expand their share of Dutch housing market

The number of privately-owned rental homes in the Netherlands rose by a net 67,000 between 2021 and 2023, and most of the growth was down to new build and the transformation of existing buildings, according to Dutch national statistics agency CBS. 

The rise takes the number of homes in the Netherlands in the hands of investors to 14.3% of the total, or some 1.2 million. Of them, 385,000 are in the hands of big investors rather than private individuals or foundations. 

The Dutch private housing market is dominated by small players with just one or two homes, often as a pension provision and just 1,000 investors have more than 50 properties on their books, the CBS figures show.

New homes

The figures also show the private sector bought 78,000 of the new homes to come on the market in the two years under consideration – or 40% of the total. They also bought 70% of the homes derived from transformations or dividing existing buildings up into smaller residential units. 

Developers have warned that Dutch government plans to increase rent controls to cover more properties in the Netherlands will lead smaller investors in particular to sell, and there is some evidence this happening. Smaller homes, of up to 40 square metres, are almost certain to fall under the new rent control limit if it comes into effect later this year. 

MPs voted in April to extend the rent control limit to around €1,100 but the measure still has to pass through the upper house of parliament. Rents in the Netherlands are determined according to a point-based system, with points awarded for size, sustainability and facilities as well as location and property value. 

Developers welcome clarity

Dutch developers and investors have welcomed the clarity brought by the vote, in particular the decision by MPs to accept two crucial amendments covering the 10% rental supplement for new property and more recognition in the points system for energy-saving measures. 

“The law will not change the complex market conditions we are currently facing but does end the uncertainty, and that is of great importance to our members,” said Judith Nobart-ten Hoor, director of investors association IVBN. “Domestic and foreign capital requires stable policy and a healthy investment climate.”

Fahid Minhas, director of developers’ organisation NEPROM also welcomed housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s own concerns about the property transfer tax, which is currently 10.4% for private sector developers. De Jonge admitted it is “on the high side” from an international perspective and said he is prepared to tackle it in the autumn – should the current government still be in power. 

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The Hague publishes design plans for new waterfront district

A former industrial area in The Hague is to be transformed into a residential district with 9,000 homes and city officials have just published their vision for the new development.

Laakhavens is a former urban port area adjacent to the main railway line and the Hollands Spoor station, which was once part of a bustling inland waterway network. With its factories and warehousing largely abandoned, the area is now about to be turned into a new urban district with a mixture of housing, retail, and other amenities.

The Hague city council has now put its design plans for the area out to public consultation, with work expected to start on the first project in 2025.

Older buildings considered to be part of the city’s industrial heritage will be repurposed and the design for the new development includes a series of apartment blocks which, at between 150 and 180 metres high, will be the tallest in the city. The waterfront will also be transformed with new housing, according to city council plans, which go into great detail about the design elements, from the use of traditional brickwork to the skyline.

“I have always said that if you want to add tens of thousands of homes to a city, then you have to do it properly,” city development chief Robert van Asten told the AD newspaper. “So we are going to get it right in one go.”

The plan not only includes a focus on striking architecture, but also on the outdoor spaces. “We have to make sure all these people live in a pleasant place,” Van Asten said. The project includes a large park on top of an underground car park which will be partly funded by €40 million from the national government. 

The aim is to ensure 55% of the area is either green or water, 25% is built up and 20% is paved or devoted to roads and footpaths. 

The Laakhavens neighbourhood forms part of the Central Innovation District, a project to redevelop large parts of the city between the three main railway stations. In total, 20,500 new homes will be built in the CID.

Artist’s impression: Gemeente Den Haag

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Research highlights opportunities to make the Dutch housing market more attractive to (international) institutional investors

New research by Cushman & Wakefield, on behalf of the Holland Metropole alliance, provides tools for the Dutch Home Affairs Ministry to make the housing investment market more attractive. Improvements, the research suggests, should be based on the following four aspects: 

Level playing field: Fiscal rules and regulations should not differentiate between private and Dutch institutional investors on the one hand and international institutional investors on the other; 

Stable investment climate: Regulations, government policy and the tax regime should be both constant and predictable for a longer period, from the development to the operational phase; 

Optimal cooperation: improve lead times and permit processes to speed up development and improve the relationship between the public and private sectors, based on trust; 

Fiscal and legal measures: Research, and possibly improve, recently amended tax measures such as transfer tax, the REIT regime, and value-added tax on investments in new build, repurposing and existing buildings. 

The ministry aims to realise 981,000 new homes in the coming years to reduce the shortage of housing. This will require investment of at least €400 billion. However, interest from international institutional investors has declined in recent years. This is worrying, given the need for capital to reach targets. 

Dutch institutional investors are an important source of capital but this is not enough to meet the challenge presented by building enough affordable, mid-market rental homes. International institutional investors can have a considerable role as providers of complementary capital on the Dutch housing investment market. However, they have a choice about where to locate in Europe and this increases the need to ensure the Netherlands has a strong, distinctive profile.

The Cushman & Wakefield research analysed the wants, requirements and willingness to invest of a number of international investors. These results were then projected on the current Dutch investment climate to highlight potential improvements that would benefit the Netherlands when compared with other European housing markets. 

Cushman & Wakefield then translated this into 11 concrete, achievable determinants prioritised according to their expected impact. This selection offers the Home Affairs Ministry concrete tools to research what options are realistic and to develop a cohesive strategy to improve the investment climate for foreign residential housing investors and attract capital for the national house building programme. 

A first step has now been taken. The ministries involved are actively pursuing dialogue with the sector in structured consultations, which has already resulted in a briefing to parliament focusing on improving the climate for residential investment. This will benefit everyone involved in production chain. The scope of the research focused on the institutional market and it would be beneficial to expand it to other main players in the housing market who also have a part to play in meeting the challenge.

You can read the entire report here (Dutch).

Contact Holland Metropole

Nicolette Klein Bog

n.kleinbog@bouwinvest.nl

Contact Cushman & Wakefield

Barbara Voskuil-Geerlings

Senior Marketing & Communications Manager

E: barbara.voskuil@cushwake.com

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Housing minister publishes plans to speed up house building, cut red tape

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge has published finalised and long-awaited legislation aimed at cutting red tape and speeding up the Dutch house building programme.

The draft law will give local, provincial and national government more powers to steer planning procedures and meet government targets of creating 981,000 new homes in the Netherlands by the end of 2030. 

“For too long we have thought that the market will bring supply and demand into balance,” De Jonge said. “But we realised that all the local decisions do not add up to what we need… this legislation will bring back our tradition of public housing.”

Location, location, location

One problem facing investors and developers at the moment is the lack of suitable locations to build the nearly one million homes needed. The new legislation requires all layers of government draw up zoning plans for a pre-determined number of properties, some of which will cater for specific groups such as students or seniors. 

Some two-thirds of these homes will be classed as affordable rental or owner-occupier properties and housing corporations, which own most of the Netherlands’ social housing, will also have a key role in this, the housing minister said.

Councils with relatively little social housing will have to ensure at least 30% of the new homes within their boundaries fall under rent controls. Those with a lot of social housing will have a target of 40% affordable rentals (currently up to around €1,100 a month) or owner occupier (up to €390,000) for new developments. 

The legislation also tackles red tape and simplifies and speeds up legal procedures and protests about developments. “You will still be able to protest… but at the moment the right to a view is considered more important than the right to a home,” De Jonge told the AD newspaper. “And that is absurd.” 

Village homes

There will be a specific emphasis on small locations on the edge of towns and villages which, De Jonge said, will ensure the country’s rural areas remain attractive places to live. In particular, projects involving fewer than 50 units will be less complex to get off the ground. 

People will also have to get used to living in smaller homes, De Jonge said. “Some homes will be smaller but houses in our busy little country are, on average, bigger than those in Germany and France. And we have an increasing number of single person households, when we primarily build family homes in the past.”

De Jonge hopes the legislation can pass quickly through both houses of parliament and come into force on July 1. 

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Real estate sector urges government action, agrees to accelerate house building plans

Holland Metropole partners are among the 12 real estate sector groups which have called on the government to take urgent action to tackle the country’s “huge housing shortage”.

Developers, investors, local authorities, home owners, and tenants’ organisations have signed up to a new agreement to accelerate plans to build at least 100,000 new homes a year. Housing has become unaffordable or unattainable for an increasing number of people, the organisations argue.

In particular, there is a shortage of affordable homes for people starting on the housing ladder, seniors and people in need of care. This, they say, is partly due to increased construction costs, interest rates and government policies. But at the same time, many plans for new residential developments fail to get off the ground.

“We need to combine the forces of the private sector, public housing bodies and governments,” says Martin van Rijn, chairman of housing corporation umbrella group Aedes. “We should stop waiting for each other and start working at the same time, and get locals involved at an early stage.” 

In particular, the alliance is calling on the government to reduce the options for objecting to new developments, strengthen the capacity of the administrative court system and give more weight to the interests of house hunters in planning applications. Caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge said last year he planned to slash red tape and limit the right to appeal. 

In addition, ensuring that one third of the 100,000 new homes each year are rent-controlled and a further third are affordable will require financial backing from the government – of between €3 billion and €5 billion a year, the alliance says.

“The money is needed to build new infrastructure and for investments creating green spaces and for climate-adaptive measures,” says Tobias Verhoeven, director of developer Synchroon, and Holland Metropole member. “Without practical and financial support in the short, medium and long term, it will not be possible to realise the required numbers of homes of the desired quality.”

The groups involved have already agreed to standardize the requirements for new buildings and to promote prefabrication and called on the government to standardise its requirements for new and affordable housing at a national level.

Last November, the government announced it had set aside €300 million to help pay for the development of 31,000 homes, 80% of which are classed as affordable.

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Densification would free space for thousands of new homes: research

There is enough space to build hundreds of thousands of new homes in post-WWII parts of Dutch towns and cities, according to research by a Dutch architects’ office on behalf of the country’s housing corporations. 

The researchers said they had identified locations for 26,000 new homes in a quick scan of Amsterdam, The Hague, Almere and 10 other towns, and that building work could be carried out in tandem with an upgrade of residential areas that were built at least 40 years ago. The research focused on housing estates built between 1950 and 1980. 

“It is daft to build a neighbourhood and then do nothing more with it,” KAW board member Mathieu Kastelijn told the AD newspaper. “You have to make changes from time to time, to make sure places remain pleasant locations to live.” 

Reduce parking

Several factors still limit the number of homes that can be built to boost the density of existing residential areas. For example, rules on how many parking spaces are needed could be changed and public transport improved, the architects point out. “If locals are less dependent on their cars, you need less room for parking and that frees up room for new homes,” the KAW report said. 

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge suggested earlier that adding new floors to existing buildings and making it easier to split large homes into smaller units, would be ways of boosting the number of homes within the available space. 

A combination of adapting existing buildings, using up left over space, demolition and new construction, and expanding residential areas slightly would allow housing corporations to boost the number of rental homes in post-WWII locations by 25%, the KAW report concludes.  

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Aerial view of Dutch town, private houses, streets and roundabout, green park with trees
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Dutch housing minister changes rules on new-builds for rental

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge has made a major concession to developers who are concerned his plans to extend rent controls to cover more residential property would hurt investments, by allowing them to add a 10% supplement to the rent for new build. 

The 10% top-up, aimed at encouraging developers and investors to build more new homes, was originally 5% and would have been restricted to 10 years. De Jonge has now changed his position, doubling the supplement and removing the time limit, after developers said the new rules would seriously impair their ability to invest in the pipeline. 

The supplement will cover all new build rental property on which work is started in the next two years. 

Concerns

Institutional investors organisation IVBN and developers association NEPROM said in a joint reaction to the revised plans that more needs to be done to make sure construction does not slow further. In particular, they say, the supplement should apply to property built after 2025, and they want the transfer tax on the sale of real estate to be cut from 10.4% to 6%.

“Institutional investors need to be able to count on having a trustworthy and attractive investment climate to be able to continue to invest in mid-market rentals,” said IVBN director Judith Norbart-ten Hoor. 

“Over the past five years, institutional investors have added some 9,000 rental units to the market, or some 15% of the total new build in the Netherlands. And we want to keep doing that. Ultimately, people looking for a home will benefit most from that.” 

Rent controls

Developers also remain concerned about the minister’s plans to increase the limit for rent controls in the Netherlands to property worth up to €1,100 a month in the Dutch “points” system, a way of calculating rents based on a score for size, value, quality and outside space. 

However, the point system itself is also being overhauled to give more weight to properties that are highly energy efficient, have gardens or balconies, and high-quality kitchens and bathrooms – which will also benefit newly build property, De Jonge said.  

Landlords had lobbied hard against the introduction of the new rules, arguing that they would lead to a wave of sales as it becomes less profitable for landlords to rent out property. 

Nevertheless, at the beginning of February, the Dutch land registry office Kadaster said that the number of rental properties in the Netherlands increased last year. In 2023, investors owned 9.4% of the country’s housing stock, compared with 9% in 2022 and 8.6% in 2021, the Kadaster figures show. The increase is largely down to investment in newly-built properties by large real estate investors.  

New homes
Developers completed some 73,000 new homes in the Netherlands last year, well below the government’s target of 100,000 and fewer than in 2022, according to national statistics agency CBS.

But this year the total number of completions will fall still further because fewer permits were handed out in 2021, the CBS said. It takes an average of two years from permit to completion.

According to research carried out on behalf of the home affairs ministry, plans have been drawn up to build 1,075,000 new homes in the Netherlands between 2022 and 2030 – in line with government targets.

MPs decided on Thursday to press ahead with the legislation, pending the formation of a new government. 

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Market for newly built homes improves in Q4

After months of decline, the market for newly-built homes in the Netherlands seems to be improving, with estate agents reporting 8% more sales in the final three months of last year. And compared with 2022 Q4, sales of new build properties are up 57%, according to figures from estate agents organisation NVM.

In total, contracts were signed for 19,150 new build properties last year, with the average price reaching €468,000 by the end of the year. 
Supply is also increasing, NVM figures show. In the final three months of the year, over 19,500 homes were on offer, a rise of 17% year on year and the highest total since early 2016. The average price of properties currently on the market is €506,000. 

Apartments accounted for 46% of the offer, with detached and semi-detached homes accounting for 22%. 


Dutch housing market pressure


“We welcome the increase in new build supply because it is reducing pressure on the market for older properties,” said Chris van Zantwijk, an estate agent and deputy chairman of the NVM’s housing group. 

“And we really need the increase to meet demand. But let us not blindly stare at homes for first-time buyers. We also need to realise homes for people moving up the property ladder or downsizing as seniors. And we are concerned about the new build pipeline.”

At the end of last year, it emerged that the five Holland Metropole partner cities will get a combined €100 million from a special Dutch government fund to stimulate affordable housing projects which are at the planning stage but threatened by the current slowdown in housing construction.
In total, 145 local authority areas are benefiting from the StartBouwImpuls fund (SBI), which will help pay for 31,000 homes, 80% of which are classed as affordable. Local authorities, private developers and housing corporations are all involved in the projects which are eligible for a total of €300 million in government grants.

Rent control concerns

Meanwhile, Dutch developers organisation Neprom has said it is concerned about plans by Zuid-Holland province to only sanction new property developments if two-thirds of the homes are classed are “affordable” or cost less than €350,000, and one-third of the total is rent-controlled. 
This is a tougher line than the caretaker government has suggested (€390,000 and 27% rent-controlled) and will lead to fewer new homes being realised, Neprom says. 
“Of course, Neprom wants to try to ensure two-thirds of new homes are affordable, but it has to be possible financially,” the organisation said. “Increasing investments in energy-efficient housing, climate resilience, biodiversity, accessibility and so on have increased the costs of housing projects substantially.”

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Green light for Rotterdam’s 2 kilometre railway viaduct park

Rotterdam will soon be home to one of the longest rooftop parks in the world – a two-kilometre-long, six-metre-wide walkway on top of a former train viaduct between the port city and the resort of Scheveningen near The Hague. 

Part of the viaduct, at the former Hofplein station, has already been turned into a popular city park and now the design for the complete project has been finalised and the tendering process is about to begin.  

The Hofbogen viaduct was used for almost 100 years to take passengers to the seaside and its arches are still used today as shops, offices and restaurants.

“But what is currently a large grey mass on top of the arches will soon become a beautiful green walkway through the north of the city,” said city spatial planning chief Vincent Karremans. “It will be a place to take a stroll and relax, above the bustle of the busy street and among the treetops.”

City biodiversity

The planning includes particular attention to biodiversity and the design has a careful composition of plants to create a habitat for various animal species, such as bees and butterflies, toads, bats, birds and hedgehogs. There will also be special “entrances” so small animals can access the roof.  

In addition, the Hofbogenpark will have a water system that collects and purifies rainwater to help the city be better prepared for heavy rainfall and droughts. There are 14 entrances for pedestrians and three locations for cafes in the plans. 

In time, the city aims to make the streets around the viaduct greener too and to build a bridge over the A20 motorway so it connects with the city district of Schiebroek, a former village which in turn leads to the surrounding countryside. 

Community run

Rotterdam is also home to the Dakpark, a 1.2-kilometre-long community-run park built over a complex that contains a shopping centre, hundreds of car parking spaces, and a dyke that helps protect the entire Randstad region.

The Rotterdam project was inspired by New York’s green project High Line, which is now 2.4 long and between 10 metres and 20 metres wide and which attracts some eight million visitors a year. Dutch landscape architect Piet Oudolf was involved in designing the High Line park.  

Rotterdam has an ongoing programme to make the most of its roofs, saying the 18.5 kilometres of flat roofs in the city offer enormous potential for water retention, generating sustainable energy, and creating green roofs and terraces.

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High demand for homes in NL offers real perspective for investors, report says

High tenant demand for sustainable, affordable housing, healthcare and retail property in sought-after Dutch locations offers institutional real estate investors real perspective in the coming years, as long as interest rates don’t rise, according to a new report by Holland Metropole partner Achmea Real Estate.

The Outlook 2024-2026 report says that “strong fundamentals” in the Dutch market continue to offer opportunities for institutionals, and that government plans to overhaul the pensions sector will not affect real estate’s relevance as an investment.

Real estate markets have had a “turbulent year” partly following European Central Bank interest rate rises to cool the economy and cut inflation, said Casper Hesp, director of investment management at Achmea Real Estate. 

Inflation under control

“In the year to September 2023, around 13% of the Dutch real estate market value evaporated, and that is a rare occurrence,” he said. “Now that inflation is under control, the ECB has the time to stabilise interest rates and then perhaps cut them in the second half of 2024. Lower interest rates will help the property market further stabilise and open up opportunities again for institutional investors.”

Interest in sustainable housing, healthcare real estate and retail premises is still high, Hesp said, adding that investors are becoming more demanding in terms of quality and location.

In particular, demand for affordable housing in the Netherlands is still strong, which makes it an interesting and low risk asset class. Mid 2023, the vacancy rate in this sector experienced by institutional investors was just 2%, a historic low. And this, the report said, is only likely to continue as the population grows in the coming years. 

A focus on ESG

At the same time, Hesp said, ESG is of increasing importance, from both a social and a financial perspective. The current pace towards meeting sustainability targets in the Netherlands means the terms of the Paris climate agreement won’t be met, he said. 

Achmea expects both tenants and policymakers will increase their focus on sustainability issues in the coming years. Institutional investors will have to not only invest in sustainable new build, but in making their existing policy more energy efficient. This is also essential to make sure investors are not left with stranded assets that cannot be leased or sold.

“EU legislation in this area is also becoming increasingly stringent and the value of sustainable real estate as opposed to unsustainable property will diverge,” said Hesp. “Real estate is an asset class with which pension funds can really make a difference.”

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Bouwinvest, pension funds sign up to €400 million social impact partnership

Holland Metropole partner Bouwinvest and two of the Netherlands’ biggest pension funds have agreed to work together to boost the stock of affordable and care-related homes in the Netherlands through a new Social Impact Real Estate Partnership. 

Civil service pension fund ABP, which is one of the biggest funds in the world, has committed €250 million and building sector fund bpfBOUW another €150 million to the partnership. The partnership’s focus will be on housing for groups of people in the Netherlands who are currently finding it difficult to find a home. 

The Netherlands has a particular shortage of affordable housing with rents of up to €1,000 per month and the new partners say the alliance aims to provide housing for lower and middle-income earners. In addition, the partnership is actively looking to invest in urban areas that currently lack social amenities.

Social ammenities

Some 80% of the partnership’s investment will be in ordinary housing and care-related homes while the rest will tackle other community-based real estate such as schools or community centres. All the developments will be energy-efficient, climate-resilient and sustainable. 

Bouwinvest will manage the partnership on behalf of the investors. “An increasing number of pension fund participants want the funds they invest to not only generate good returns but also to make a positive contribution to society and the environment,” said Bouwinvest’s impact investment director Maya Savelkoul. 

APB chairman Harmen van Wijnen said the pension fund is focused on attractive long-term investments. “It is even better if these investments can also help solve social problems,” he said. “The Netherlands has a housing shortage and our participants know this as well. This partnership enables us to do something about the problem.”

Housing targets

Meanwhile, caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge has admitted the government’s target to build 100,000 new homes a year will be missed again in 2023, by around 10,000 units.

At the same time, De Jonge said, on top of the target of 900,000 new homes by 2030, a further 400,000 will be needed in the following decade. 

The next cabinet, he said, will have to face “important choices” because both “physical and financial space will have to be found to meet housing requirements and to develop a cohesive, long-term spatial planning vision for the country”.

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Dutch government puts €100 million into Holland Metropole homes

The five Holland Metropole partner cities will get a combined €100 million from a special Dutch government fund to stimulate affordable housing projects which are at the planning stage but threatened by the current slowdown in housing construction.

In total, 145 local authority areas are benefiting from the StartBouwImpuls fund (SBI), which will help pay for 31,000 homes, 80% of which are classed as affordable. Local authorities, private developers and housing corporations are all involved in the projects which are eligible for a total of €300 million in government grants.

Caretaker housing minister Hugo de Jonge said the money would help limit the impact of the downturn in the current construction market, which has been hit by interest rises and higher costs. “This extra support for local authorities will generate more speed and more focus so we can keep building affordable homes,” he said. “It will kick start projects which threaten to stagnate because of the more difficult construction climate.” 

Rotterdam has taken the biggest share of the Holland Metropole money – €26.7 million – which will be used to help get 13 projects off the ground. Some 64% of the Rotterdam homes will be classed as affordable. 

The city’s housing chief Chantal Zeegers said the investment is “extremely good news for those behind the projects and people who are looking for somewhere to live.” The money, she said, “will allow us to build over 2,600 homes and these homes are really needed in Rotterdam.”

The city has also set up its own fund to contribute €5,000 per unit towards projects that don’t qualify for funding from the government scheme. 

The Hague will get €25.7 million from the fund to build nearly 2,800 homes while Amsterdam will get €18.3 million for 14 projects totaling 2,105 units. Utrecht is being given over €19 million for eight projects with 1850 units and Eindhoven nearly €9 million for four projects and almost 900 homes. 

Haarlemmermeer, which is also a Holland Metropole member, will receive €2.7 million to help complete two projects with 262 homes. The money is being targeted at projects that are well into the planning stage so that work can start by 2025, even though changing economic circumstances have altered the business case. On average the government is contributing €10,000 to each housing unit.

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Rethink the rent control risks, top advisor tells housing minister

The government’s most senior advisory body, the Council of State, has told housing minister Hugo de Jonge to improve his draft legislation aimed at increasing the amount of rent-controlled property in the Netherlands. 

At the moment it is “unclear” whether the new Affordable Rent Act will help prospective tenants and whether it will lead to a better supply of affordable rental housing, the council said in an analysis of the draft legislation.

There is also a “real risk” that the bill will lead to landlords selling their properties and a downturn in new construction, the council said, adding that it is also “unclear” how the minister intends to manage the risk that the bill will lead to the sale of existing rentals and fewer new builds. 

Scarcity and high demand

The current high rents are caused by scarcity and high demand, the advisory group said. “But in the legislation, the report said, the government is not paying enough attention to the causes of the lack of supply and the “interaction between the social sector, the owner-occupied market and the private rental sector”. 

The report was published on the same day that CBRE published new figures suggesting as many as 100,000 rental properties could be removed from the market over the next 20 years because of the increase in rent controls.  

Dutch developers have been warning for over a year about the likely impact of the increase in rent controls on the rental market and fewer new homes than expected were completed last year. The shortfall this year could be as many as 10,000, housing minister Hugo de Jonge warned earlier in November. 

Protection for tenants

De Jonge said in a reaction to the Council of State’s recommendations that new tenants usually pay ‘substantially more” for the same property when they sign a lease. The aim of the expansion of rent controls, he said, is to put an end to this and to offer tenants more protection. 

However, he said, it is “crucial” to focus on both regulation and on “realising an attractive investment climate for new affordable housing”. De Jonge points out that the ministry has already increased the temporary rental surcharge for new housing from 5% to 10% and is giving more weight to energy efficiency in determining the maximum rent for a property.

Now, he said, work can begin in adapting the bill to make it more substantial so that it can be debated in the lower house of parliament. The bill could come into effect in July 2024, he said, six months later than originally planned, but much will depend on the position of the next government. 

Developers, meanwhile, have welcomed the Council of State’s position. “We understand that excesses on the housing market need to be tackled,” said Desirée Uitzetter, chairwoman of developers organisation Neprom and area development director at Holland Metropole partner BPD. “But this legislation, in its present form,” she told the Financieele Dagblad “is not going to contribute to that.” 

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€26.7 million for the construction of new homes in Rotterdam

Rotterdam receives €26.7 million from the government for the construction of new homes that are at risk of stalling, due to increased interest rates and construction costs. With this financial support from the ‘Startbouwimpuls, Rotterdam can build 2,647 homes within the next two years, with 64% of them falling into the affordable housing segment. Councilor Zeegers (Climate, Construction, and Housing): “This is incredibly good news for the initiators and, of course, for those looking for housing. With government support, the construction of over 2600 homes can start quickly, with the majority in the social and mid-range. And I am very pleased with that because these homes are much needed in Rotterdam.”

Faster start of housing construction in a large number of Rotterdam neighborhoods Projects from both housing associations and developers are eligible for the Start Construction Impulse. These include Alexanderpark Rotterdam (Prins Alexander), De Graaf (city center), De Sax (Kop van Zuid), Hartenruststraat (Oude Noorden), Hof van Maasdam Park (16Hoven), Klapwiek (Prins Alexander), Phase 1 Max Euwekwartier (Brainpark), Odeon (city center), Oost-Sidelinge (Overschie), Soetendaalseweg and Ruivendwarsstraat (Oude Noorden), Tamboer 2 Oost (Crooswijk), Timber (Dordtsestraatweg Rotterdam-Zuid), and Vlietpark phase 2 (Hoogvliet). On average, a financial contribution of €10,000 per home is provided.

Support for other housing projects Not all projects affected by deteriorating market conditions qualify for the government’s Start Construction Impulse. “We will engage in discussions with the initiators of these projects to see where we can help them so that they can also start building,” says Councilor Zeegers. The municipality utilizes the Rotterdam Start Construction Scheme, the Bottleneck Fund of the Province of South Holland, and the 6th tranche of the national Housing Construction Impulse. With these housing impulses, municipalities can accelerate the construction of new affordable homes. If a project can build a larger number of affordable homes than planned, additional funds are available from the municipal Continuation Fund.

Continuing construction Earlier this year, Rotterdam, along with market parties and housing associations, signed a Continuation Agreement, announcing the Rotterdam Start Construction Scheme. In addition to contributions from the government and the province, Rotterdam has reserved €10 million through its own Continuation Scheme to revive stalled affordable middle-income housing projects. By combining national, provincial, and municipal continuation schemes, Rotterdam can continue building affordable homes at a faster pace.

Starting within two years In the coming period, Rotterdam will assess which of the above-mentioned construction projects, as well as those not receiving government funds, qualify for a municipal contribution of up to €5,000 per home. These are projects in the middle segment that, without this contribution and due to the current economic headwinds in the construction sector, cannot start. The Rotterdam Start Construction Scheme includes a maximum of €10 million and is open until June 2025.

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Foreign investors, come to the Netherlands, says housing minister

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has told the Volkskrant newspaper that foreign investors are welcome in the Netherlands and that new rent control rules will give them more security about the returns they will make on their investments here. 

The minister was commenting on the decision by two large foreign investors – Capreit and Heimstaden – to sell around 10,000 rental properties in the Netherlands. But both firms are selling their Dutch real estate to raise capital for other investments, not because of the expansion of rent controls, the minister told the paper.

The outgoing government is planning to expand the current rent control system to cover homes worth up to €1,100 a month, rather than €808 as at present, although the legislation has not yet become law. Many developers and investors say this means it will be no longer profitable to rent out homes and small investors in particular have already begun selling their property on the open market.   

Building new homes more profitable

“Most private landlords are doing just fine,” De Jonge said. “The new law on affordable housing will allow many of them to continue to charge the same level of rent. And building new homes will also be profitable. Next month I will make it clear how much extra landlords can charge for new property – it will be considerable.” Currently, landlords can charge an additional 5% rent for newly built property for a 10 year period.  

Landlords will also be able to charge more for homes with a high energy label because, De Jong said, making property more sustainable should be rewarded. Homes with outside space, such as balconies, will also have higher rents. 

Reliable government

“Foreign investors, come to the Netherlands,” De Jonge said. “It is a country with a reliable government and with high standards of morality when it comes to payments. We need a lot of investment to build 981,000 new homes, and that needs to come from the Netherlands and abroad. All reliable landlords and developers are very welcome, without compromising the necessary protection for tenants. 

De Jonge has also told MPs during a debate on the housing crisis that he will look into calls to set up some form of guarantee for new housing developments which would allow projects to go ahead, even if 70% of the properties had not yet been sold. 

He has also warned that the current transfer tax paid by investors of 10.4% is “really too high” when looked at from an international perspective. This is something that should be on the table during the negotiations to form a new government after the November general election, De Jonge told MPs. 

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“Think of those trying to find a home”, housing minister De Jonge tells developers

Property developers and investors should start looking at the Netherlands’ housing crisis from the perspective of the people looking for homes, housing minister Hugo de Jonge told visitors to the Provada real estate trade fair earlier this month.
“Everyone knows someone who is unable to find a place to live,” De Jonge said at the opening of the 19th edition of the Amsterdam-based fair, where he met developers and investors and discussed his target to build 900,000 new homes.
The real estate industry has been highly critical of some of the measures the minister has proposed to stimulate the development of more affordable housing, such as setting quotas for different types of property in new developments.

Ambition
The 900,000 figure has not been plucked out of thin air “by an over-ambitious minister” but is based on the real needs of a growing population, De Jonge said.
Despite industry criticism, the decision to extend rent controls and boost the supply of affordable housing will not be abandoned, he said, despite admitting earlier in the month that the sector is going through a dip as new construction slows.
Asked by one delegate if he had to choose between 900,000 new homes and extending rent controls to more properties, De Jonge said: “Not a good question. We have to do both.”

Subsidies
The government is also doing more to help people starting on the housing ladder to buy a home, by introducing starter subsidies and other measures, he said.
In addition, the person looking to buy a home is being disadvantaged by the endless legal procedures before building work starts and this too needs to be tackled, De Jonge said. The minister has already announced plans to slash the number of times locals can take legal action against a development.
“We have to work together,” the minister said. “Government and industry are not on opposite sides… and we are facing a gigantic task.”

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Rotterdam expands eastwards with 30,000 new homes

Rotterdam city council has drawn up new plans for a 30,000 home expansion on the eastern side of the city which officials say will make inroads into the current housing shortage.

The strategy to redevelop an area stretching between the Prins Alexanderplein and Zuidplein has been made possible by the decision to build a new bridge and fast tram service over the river Maas. Good public transport connections are an essential part of Rotterdam’s expansion policy.

The Oostflank development will also include shops, health centres, schools, sports parks and plenty of greenery. City housing chief Chantal Zeegers says that the project will help an ‘awful lot’ of people looking for a home. ‘But that is not the only aim the city administration has,’ she said. ‘It is also about having a pleasant place to live.’

Most of the residential development will take place on brownfield sites around four existing public transport links – Rotterdam Alexander, metro station Kralingse Zoom, the yet to be build station Stadionpark and the Zuidplein metro station close to Hart van Zuid.

Several existing residential areas, including Het Lage Land, Prinsenland, De Esch, Bloemhof and Hillesluis will also be expanded and renovated. In addition, the plan includes two new residential neighbourhoods, both of which will have plenty of room for water and trees.

“Building homes cannot take place without incorporating other functions and this is why the city is investing in creating parks and gardens as well,” said outdoor planning alderman Vincent Karremans.  Several sports clubs and three allotment complexes will have to move when building work starts but all will be found new locations in the same area.

The plans are currently out to public consultation and everyone is being invited to have their say. After the summer, the city council will take a definite decision about the new zoning plan. 

Read the details (in Dutch)

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Government signs more housing deals, pledges to speed up new construction

The Dutch government has signed agreements with six more of the country’s 12 provinces, outlining where new housing is to be built in the coming years.

Flevoland, Noord-Holland, Utrecht, Noord-Brabant, Limburg and Gelderland have joined the list of regions which have committed to facilitating new residential developments, as part of the government’s target of building 900,000 new homes by 2030.

The deal covering the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, is for 171,000 new houses and apartments – or almost a fifth of the government’s total ambitions. In Utrecht, the deal is for 83,000 properties spread across the province.

Bottlenecks

The agreements highlight areas where large scale residential construction can be built in return for the government’s commitment to speed up the development process.

‘We are asking the government to fully commit to solving these bottlenecks, where the state has a role,’ said Haarlem housing chief Floor Rodune, who also chairs the MRA housing committee. ‘That be done by rule changes or by providing extra financial resources.’

Housing minister Hugo de Jonge has already pledged to remove the bottlenecks to housing construction such as restrictions relating to nitrogen-based pollution, mobility, the shortage of electricity grid capacity and local objections.

Problems

However, the construction trade economic institute EIB warned earlier in March that eight of the 12 provinces will have to speed up their residential development plans if the government is to meet its target of 100,000 new homes a year.

In particular, Zuid and Noord-Holland, Utrecht and Gelderland need to do more, the EIB said. The five big Holland Metropole cities are located in these four provinces.

By contrast, the more rural provinces actually built more houses than needed to meet government targets. This, the EIB said, maybe due to the pledge to ensure two-thirds of all new homes are classed as affordable – either rent controlled or owner-occupied.

It is more complicated and expensive to build affordable homes in the central urban belt of the Netherlands known as the Randstad, than in rural areas, the agency said.

Elections

The impact of the recent provincial elections on the government’s housing plans remains to be seen. Work has now started on forming 12 new provincial councils, all of which are likely to include new party BBB, which supports high rise developments in urban areas rather than in green belt land. The pro-farmer BBB was the big winner in the March 15 vote.

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Housing minister plans to ‘take back control’ of residential development

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has published draft legislation which gives central government more control over allocating building land and to force local authorities to act if they fail to reach agreements.

The new law also seeks to ensure two-thirds of new housing is classed as affordable – either rent controlled, mid-market rentals (up to around €1,100 per month) or for sale at affordable prices.

The proposal is one of a package of measures aimed at giving central government more say in residential property development, in an effort to ensure that 900,000 new homes are built by 2030, in line with the government’s plans.

‘For too long we thought that local decisions would automatically provide a solution to the housing shortage but that is not the case,’ De Jonge said. ‘That is why we must restore public housing and take back control. This legislation will make sure governments have the right tools to manage how much, where and for whom we build.’

Red tape

De Jonge has already published plans to speed up the construction of new housing, partly by limiting the right of appeal against new developments. It currently takes an average of 10 years from the start of the process to completion but this can be speeded up by removing red tape and combining processes, De Jonge said.

In particular the minister plans to limit the right of appeal against a building project to one legal layer. At the moment, locals who object to the plans can go to court several times in their efforts to stop a development.

De Jonge also says more phases in the development process – from planning, sorting the finances, research, consultation with locals and legal procedures – should take place concurrently. This, the minister said, can cut the development process before construction starts by years.

Fewer permits

Figures show that it is becoming more difficult to sell newly built housing and that the number of building permits handed out by local authorities has also gone down. Last year, permits for 60,000 houses were extended by the end of November, compared with 76,000 in 2021 as a whole.

Insurers have also reported a 20% drop in projects. Construction often only starts with 70% of a project is sold and this is leading to further delays or changes to number and type of home.

‘Based on what we know now, it looks as if we are going to end up with 50,000 to 60,000 new homes this year,’ Gerlof Muntinga, financial director of Woningborg, told the Financieele Dagblad earlier in February.

De Jonge has said he is prepared to consider some form of financial guarantee for construction companies if they start building sooner and has promised to come up with an analysis before the summer, the FD said.  However, any move using taxpayers’ cash will have to be cleared by Brussels to make sure it is not illegal state support.

Meanwhile, De Jonge has said he hopes the new legislation will become law at the beginning of 2024.

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Fewer new homes completed last year, as minister pledges action on planning

Over 74,000 new homes were completed in the Netherlands last year, the highest figure in 10 years, but still far below the government’s target of 100,000.

The number of completions was particularly high in Zuid-Holland province and in Amsterdam, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

In Amsterdam, 6,800 new homes were added to the housing stock, taking the total up by 1.5% to 475,000. In the other big four cities, around 2,000 new homes were completed.

In Zuid-Holland, which includes the Holland Metropole partner cities of The Hague and Rotterdam, 14,500 new homes came on the market.

10% decline

The figures coincide with the publication of a new report by the construction industry’s economic institute EIB, which suggests up to 10% fewer houses will be built in the next two years, despite the government’s pledge to add 900,000 to the national housing stock by 2030.

In addition, the number of permits for new projects is also down, which will have an impact later in the decade.

In particular, the cost of building materials and high interest rates are having an impact on developers’ willingness to invest and legal requirements stemming from nitrogen-based pollution caused by construction are also slowing down processes, the institute said.

Nimby

In January, housing minister Hugo de Jonge published plans to make it quicker to build new housing, partly by limiting the right of appeal against new developments.

It currently takes an average of 10 years from the start of the process to completion but this can be speeded up by removing red tape and combining processes, De Jonge said.

‘We want to break through the ‘not in my backyard’ sentiment,’ he said. ‘We owe it to everyone looking for a place to live to do everything in our power to speed up housing construction.’

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Minister publishes housing plans, market reacts

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has reached agreement with all 12 provincial councils on plans to develop new housing over the coming eight years, but developers have described the programme as ‘unrealistic’. 

In total, the Netherland’s 12 provinces have committed to building over 900,000 new homes, of which two-thirds will be classed as affordable, the minister told parliament earlier this month. ‘We are faced with the enormous task of building a total of 900,000 homes in the coming years,’ De Jonge said. ‘This requires a joint effort from governments, corporations and the private sector.’ 

Most of the new homes will be built in the provinces where the five big Holland Metropole cities are – Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Eindhoven. Provincial and local councils will firm up the plans in localised agreements in the coming months, including ‘the specific locations, target groups, rental/purchase distribution and price categories,’ De Jonge said. ‘With this approach, we are taking back control of public housing.’

The government defines affordable housing as property with an official rental value of up to €1,000 per month or a purchase price below the national mortgage guarantee ceiling, which is currently €355,000. 

Investors have already warned that the government’s plan to regulate most of the rental market in the Netherlands will reduce rather than increase supply. And developers now say that the 900,000-home project will not achieve its aims without more involvement from the private sector either.  

Construction sector lobby group Bouwend Nederland said in a reaction that it had many questions about the De Jonge’s plan, pointing out that most of the planned developments are still up in the air, thanks to nitrogen and noise norms. 

‘It is a great ambition… but there are many hurdles to take to make it a reality,’ said director Fries Heinis. ‘Some of the plans are concrete in the short term… but the government must involve the private sector far more than it has done so far.’

 Dutch developers association Neprom described the plans as ‘unrealistic’, saying that the number of housing units is partly based on ‘plans for projects in which the housing will not be completed until well after 2030.’

Neprom chairwoman Desirée Uitzetter said that building homes is becoming increasingly expensive, partly due to the impact of the Ukraine crisis. The 900,000 figure, she said, is ‘not based on really concrete projects, but on ideas about projects.’

‘In our view the private sector has not been involved enough in making these projects concrete and achievable,’ she said. ‘That is where the pain is.’

Meanwhile, research by the construction sector’s economic institute Economisch Instituut van de Bouw suggests the housing crisis would be solved if every town or village added one or two streets of homes to its housing stock. 

Small scale projects in villages and towns have the potential to add 300,000 homes to the city’s housing stock, the EIB said in a new report. In Noord Holland province, for example, where 184,000 homes will be built under De Jonge’s programme, 200,000 additional homes could be built if every town added a street, the EIB said.

Many of the projects in De Jonge’s list are ‘large, complex inner city locations, which will first need infrastructure and area-based transformation,’ EIB director Taco van Hoek said. ‘It will take years to draw up the plans, realise the infrastructure, remove existing buildings, move industry and clean up the soil,’ he said.

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Dutch government puts the squeeze on rental housing sector

Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge’s plans to reform the rental housing market include a new upper limit for placing rent controls on property at around €1,000 per month.

De Jonge said this spring that he would regulate the rents of more of the country’s housing stock in order to ‘reduce excesses’ in the market and that he was thinking of an upper limit of between €1,000 and €1,250.

At the moment, landlords have free choice in deciding the rent of property worth more than 143 points in the regulatory system. Points are awarded for amenities such as the number of bedrooms, whether or not the apartment has luxury bathroom fittings and the age of the property. 

The point total will now be increased to 187, which means nearly all rental property will be subject to some form of price control – as yet, it is not clear exactly how much. Just 9% of Dutch housing stock is currently available to rent to people earning more than €40,000 a year.

Criticism

News of the extension of rent controls was heavily criticized by developers and investors at the time – partly because of the lack of clarity and partly because it would make some developments unprofitable. 

Dutch real estate investors wrote to De Jonge warning that new home construction projects will slow drastically if he presses ahead with plans to regulate more rents. Without change, just 50,000 new homes will be built every year, rather than the 100,000 that the government is counting on, lobby group Neprom told the minister in July.

Higher wages and the cost of materials are also having an impact, with a 9% drop in the number of new rental properties coming on the market last year. 

Rents are rising

Figures published by rental housing platform Pararius in October show that rents in the non-rent controlled housing sector in the Netherlands have risen sharply in the five big cities, and properties are let more quickly. 

In Amsterdam, tenants with new contracts are paying 10.3% more than they did a year ago, with rents reaching €25.24 per square metre, or an average of €1,766 for a 70 square metre apartment. 

In Utrecht, new contract rents were up 6.5% to €20.33 per square metre – or €1420 for a 70 square metre flat. In Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven, rents for new contracts now average between €17 and €18 per square metre, Pararius said.

Owner occupied sector

Meanwhile, figures from real estate agents’ association NVM indicate that the average house sold for 5.8% less in the last financial quarter than between April and June. The Q3 results are the first solid indication that the Dutch property market is taking a downturn, after years of strong growth. 

Rising interest rates in particular are reducing the amount would-be buyers can borrow. The government is also introducing tougher borrowing requirements for home buyers next year.  

De Jonge will publish his detailed plans for reforming the rental housing sector in November.

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Holland Metropole partners are squaring up to circularity and sustainability

In total, 34 Dutch cities, companies and organisations make up the 2022 Holland Metropole delegation to Expo Real in October. Together, they are showcasing how Dutch developers, investors and local authorities are putting the circular economy, climate adaptation, sustainability and social cohesion high on their priority lists.

This summer’s drought and last year’s floods have brought home how important it is to tackle climate change and adapt urban environment to future needs – particularly in a low-lying country like the Netherlands.  And there is growing awareness throughout the country that the big problems facing it – carbon emissions, nitrogen-based pollution, water shortages and surpluses, the energy transition and a shortage of homes – are all connected in some way, and that working together is a key part in solving them.

Investor Bouwinvest, for example, is supporting the Red & Blue research project, a five year programme backed by the government, universities and private sector, which aims to establish ways to make the built environment climate adaptive. But the company is also active in its own right.

‘The  effects of climate change are part of our risk models, We include climate adaptation programmes in our portfolios and we have added these climate risks into our investment decision-making process,’ says CEO Mark Siezen.

The Holland Metropole alliance, first launched almost 10 years ago, aims to promote public private partnerships at a metropolitan regional level, making sure the issues facing urban areas are put on the agenda and that there is enough executive and investment power to make real change.

‘We are creating a city in which heavy rainfall does not damage our homes and roads, in which you can find a cool place to sit on hot days and in which greenery survives drought,’ says Rik Thijs, Eindhoven’s climate alderman.  ‘Climate adaptation is not just about technical solutions, but about making Eindhoven a better place to live and work.’

The Netherlands has drawn up a list of targets for reducing greenhouse gases and eradicating natural gas as a source for heating and cooking in homes. On a national basis, the government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 49% in 2030 compared with 1990.

Developers and investors too are setting their own standards. Investor a.s.r. real estate works with strategic targets to ensure its portfolio is climate adaptive, taking four major climate risks into account: heat, flooding, drought and extreme weather

Ballast Nedam reduced the CO2 emissions of its owner occupier homes by an average of 69% last year, while Syntrus Achmea has cut the CO2 emissions of its residential portfolio by 40% compared with 1990. Others are working on innovative techniques.

‘As a family business we feel responsible for future generations, so we have opened a circular construction hub called Urban Miner. We focus on timber construction, invest in emission-free equipment and develop energy neutral buildings,’ said a spokesman for Dura Vermeer.

Architects bureau UNStudio, is developing new design strategies for adaptive reuse, transformation and extending building lifespan including smart, low-carbon and energy-producing building innovations.

Developers too are investing in new techniques and materials. While timber has now become the new standard, Ballast Nedam has branched further out and is using straw, a residual product from farming, as a construction material in its new ‘Nature Houses’ – with construction due to start in 2023. By using prefabricated straw panels, the company says it is able to build on a large scale and the resulting home is 95% biobased.

MRP has also turned to prefabrication. ‘We focus on modular building techniques and this means we can produce homes more efficiently and economically,’ said Bart Meijer CEO at MRP. ’This benefits both the planet and the consumer.’

To find out more about what the Holland Metropole partners are showcasing at Expo Real, visit A2.130.

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The Netherlands needs to really make work of shaking up the housing market

The Netherlands needs to increase taxes on home owners and boost the private sector supply of new homes in order to get the housing market moving again, according to the chief economists from the three biggest Dutch banks, and two professors of finance policy.

Writing in economists journal ESB, the authors argue that the government’s current strategy is based on ‘papering over cracks’ rather than boosting access to the housing market, reducing inequality between tenants and home owners, and tackling prices.

In particular, the government should focus on expanding the supply of affordable housing which falls outside the rent-controlled sector – which has a ceiling of €763 per month – and which is not owned by housing corporations.

They also suggest that local authorities and their residents benefit more from new construction by introducing a tax on the increase in the value of the land which takes place when zoning plans are changed.

This tax, payable by developers, would allow municipalities to finance social goals – such as more social housing – more directly than by setting quotas in development projects. This, they say, will make it easier for municipalities and project developers to negotiate with each other about land availability and sales.

In addition, more housing should be encouraged in areas where prices have risen the most in the past few years, because this is an indicator of future demand.

At the same time, the economists say more should be done to make sure the current housing stock is used efficiently. In particular, various regulations which ban home sharing by more than two adults who are not related should be overhauled, because this can ease the shortage of places to live in the short term.

They also propose making building requirements more uniform, in order to speed up the construction process itself.

Some aspects of the government’s current strategy, such as the plan to regulate the rent of a much bigger proportion of the rental housing stock, is not without risk they argue. ‘It may improve affordability in the short term, but it will not tackle the structural shortfall in affordable rental housing,’ they state.

Another area of concern is the fact that home owners pay relatively little tax, which is why the Dutch are keen to put so much borrowed money into bricks and mortar, the economists say.

This could be partially tackled by treating property as an asset to be taxed when the home is sold. To stop people borrowing beyond their means, which is also putting up house prices, the official recommendations on borrowing – currently 100% of the value of the property – should not be expanded and could even be reduced. Energy costs should also be taken into account in determining how much people can borrow.

‘These reforms are a break with the past and that is why they should be introduced gradually,’ the economists say. ‘But they offer long-term advantages. Home owners and tenants will be treated more equally, house prices will become more stable and the tax on work and other income will come down, so that households can spend more on other things beside their living costs.’

The article was written by Ester Barendregt (Rabobank),  Marieke Blom (ING) and Sandra Phlippen (ABN Amro) together with Arnoud Boot, professor of Corporate Finance and Financial Markets at the University of Amsterdam and Dirk Schoenmaker, professor of Banking and Finance at Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

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Climate proof property is central stage at Provada

Developing climate proof property is the key issue for Holland Metropole partners at the Provada real estate conference in Amsterdam, which takes starts on June 14.  

With climate change becoming ever more acute, and the Dutch government unveiling new measures to boost the energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock, Holland Metropole members will be showcasing their commitment to tackling environmental problems during the three-day Provada real estate event.

The theme of this year’s Provada is ‘Act now for a better tomorrow’ with a particular focus on climate adaptation and circularity. Several Holland Metropole partners, including Dick Boelen, director of Dura Vermeer and BPD’s Desirée Uitzetter who is also head of Dutch developers’ association NEPROM, will be outlining their views on the big issues during the conference programme.

This year the Holland Metropole partners again have a particular focus on timber-based construction. ‘Climate change is the biggest challenge of our generation,’ says architects practice MVSA. ‘We believe we must take responsibility, and using wood, which is a sustainable construction material, helps us to do this.’

In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, developers, investors and local authorities last year signed a new Timber Green Deal, based on a real commitment to the use of wood.

‘Awareness has grown across everyone involved in the real estate and development sector that building with timber on a large scale is essential if we want to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and speed up the supply of housing,’ says Bob van der Zande, programme director Houtbouw MRA.

Timber based construction is environment friendly as well. Experts have calculated that if the one million new homes which the Dutch government wants to see built by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

‘The built environment accounts for 40% of global carbon emissions. By using more natural construction materials instead of concrete and steel, and focusing more on circularity, the CO2 emissions driven by new construction can be minimized,’ points out Ingrid Hulshoff, portfolio manager real estate at investor Syntrus Achmea.

Existing property is also being brought up to new standards. Investor Bouwinvest, for example, has improved the energy label of the World Trade Centre in Rotterdam from E to A in three years and has made societal returns a key part of its performance targets.

In Rotterdam, built around a major river delta, the role of climate change and the transition towards green energy are central themes across all planning decisions.  In particular, city officials are looking upwards, to18 square kilometres of city roofs, which are being turned into gardens, water buffers and more.

This year, throughout June, intrepid visitors can even walk across a 600 metres rooftop walk built on scaffolding to find out more about what is being done. ‘We have almost 170,000 m² of solar panels; we have 360,000 m² of green on rooftops, but that’s still [just] 3% of the potential of that 18km² that we have,’ organiser Leon van Geest told DutchNews.nl. ‘We still have a lot of work to do.’

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Fewer rental properties added to Dutch housing stock in 2021

The number of new rental properties added to Dutch housing stock fell 9% last year, when compared with 2020, as the mounting cost of workers and material lead developers to delay projects, ABN Amro said in a new analysis of the Netherlands’ housing market.

While most new rental homes were realised in Amsterdam, the total in the capital was just 2,965, and in Utrecht, only 676 new rental properties came on the market, the survey showed. In the Netherlands as a whole, almost 23,000 new rental properties were added to the supply side.

ABN Amro analyst Casper Wolf says there is a link between the situation in the five Holland Metropole cities and smaller urban conurbations, where the amount of new housing is increasing more rapidly.

‘Rijswijk, Zoeterwoude and Dordrecht all show considerable increases in the amount of new rental property,’ he said. ‘Nieuwegein has become the alternative for people who cannot afford Utrecht.’

Skilled workers

Developers, who have been faced with delays and cancelled projects because of efforts to reduce nitrogen-based pollution, are now counting other costs as well, Wolf said. It has become more difficult and expensive to find skilled workers, building material has become more expensive and land prices are also going up.

‘The price of land rose to a record €530 per square metre in the first months of 2022,’ Wolf said. ‘That is up 9.5% on a year ago.’

Government measures, such as the increase in the property transfer tax for investors, are also making developers more reluctant to take the plunge, Wolf said. ‘Government policies that intervene in the housing market plus renewed competition from Airbnb is making investing and renting out in the non rent-controlled sector less attractive, or sometimes even impossible.’

Ownership restrictions

Other measures to help local councils boost the supply of affordable homes are also having an impact. Local authorities are now allowed to designate new developments as ‘owner occupier only’ and Arnhem, for example, has introduced this for properties valued at up to €325,000 in 20 of its 24 residential areas.

Rotterdam has introduced similar regulations in 16 residential areas, with a limit of €355,000.

‘This measure is advantageous to first time buyers but is a problem for people looking to rent in the free sector because investors are staying away,’ Wolf said. Investors are no longer competing with private buyers for cheaper property but this is resulting in fewer rental properties for people who cannot get a mortgage but who earn too much to rent social housing, he said.

All this, says Wolf, means rental prices are likely to rise still further in the short term.

‘If the government’s ambitions to build 100,000 homes a year are achieved, this will probably reduce the pressure on the free sector in the longer term,’ he says.

Rental increases

Last year, landlords operating in the non rent-controlled sector agreed to limit rent rises to the rate of inflation from the previous year plus 1%. This means rents are likely to rise 3.3% this year but could be significantly higher in 2023, because of the current high rate of inflation, the ABN Amro report showed.

However, housing minister Hugo de Jonge said in April that this strategy could lead to problems for tenants, given the soaring rate of inflation, especially when coupled with higher energy bills.

Instead the minister plans to set a maximum increase for so-called free sector rents – properties which are more expensive than the €763 per month social housing sector limit. He already has this right for social housing.

The government has pledged to increase the number of properties for rent outside the social housing sector, particularly mid-market rentals of up to €1,000 per month. Currently, 57% of the Dutch housing stock is owner occupied, 33% is rent controlled and just 9% is available for higher earners who wish to rent.

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‘The Netherlands has plenty of room to build new homes’

The Dutch government’s chief architect has said that hundreds of thousands of new homes can be built in Dutch towns and cities by boosting the density of developments, rather than expanding into green belt land.

Francesco Veenstra told the Telegraaf in an interview that many urban areas still have land available and that developing brownfield sites will ‘also improve the living environment, and keep the local baker and butcher in business’.

The Dutch government has set a target of building one million new homes by 2030 and many of them will be built in large new residential developments outside city centres.

‘Of course you also have to build new neighbourhoods, but you can also build and renovate in existing urban environments,’ Veenstra told the paper. The architect will have a key role in advising housing minister Hugo de Jonge as he puts his plans into action.

Shrinking households

One reason for the current shortage of homes is the fact that households are shrinking, even though the population is expanding. ‘At the beginning of the last century the average household was made up of five people and at the moment it is 2.1,’ Veenstra points out. ‘This means that more than twice as many homes are needed for the same number of people and this is a problem that will only get worse.’

The 2008 financial crisis was another problem because many building firms went bust at that time and the construction of new residential property almost halved. Today, the shortage of workers is a major issue, and the government has said prefabrication is likely to have a role in solving the current crisis.

Veenstra said he is hopeful that the building process can be made faster. ‘But we need to act on a wide front,’ he said. ‘We need to produce many different types of homes, using quality prefabrication and good craftsmen. We must also repurpose existing real estate such as office buildings, old school buildings and factories.’

Infrastructure

The government advisor also warned about repeating the problems of earlier mass residential building programmes, in which the infrastructure was dealt with as an afterthought. ‘I believe in densification of city districts,’ he said. ‘Over the past fifteen years, we have been able to realize a quarter of a million homes without impacting on green areas. It is a process that we must continue, because there is still a lot of space in our cities and towns.’

The Netherlands, he said, is still far from full. ‘There is plenty of room, but it is just in different places to where people are looking now,’ he said. The border region around Delfzijl in Groningen and Maastricht or Vlissingen have plenty of opportunity for development, as long as the jobs and the transport infrastructure is there, Veenstra said.

‘If we make plans to build outside the main urban conurbations, we will have to make sure there are jobs,’ he said. ‘And we might also have to travel a little longer between home and work.’

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The Netherlands needs one million new homes, or does it?

The new Dutch government plans to build 100,000 new homes a year – taking the total by 2030 to around one million. But where does the figure come from? The NRC newspaper has been finding out.

The NRC says the ‘one million’ figure was first mentioned in 2017 by a Delft research bureau which has for years analysed the housing market on behalf of the government. It was later used by the Holland Metropole group as an alarm call, to alert ministers to the growing problems on the housing market and the need to develop a coordinated approach to the problem.

Despite the warnings from developers little changed, and ABF Research said again in late 2021 that 936,000 new homes would be needed by 2030. At the moment, the Netherlands needs 279,000 new homes to meet demand, ABF said. That figure is based on waiting lists, the number of young adults sharing homes, students living at home and people who in their 30s who have been forced to move back in with their parents.

The rest of the total is made up of homes that will be needed in the future. The CBS estimates that by the end of 2040, over 19 million people will live in the Netherlands, largely due to immigration. That will require 436,000 new homes, ABF said.

Households are also getting smaller. By 2035, the average household will have 2.07 people, half the size of a household in 1950, according to CBS forecasts. That growth too will require 243,000 new homes.

In addition, 118,000 homes will need to be replaced because they have been demolished.

Expectations

The one million ‘is not cast in concrete’, housing market professor Johan Conijn told the NRC. ‘It is based on expectations about the future which may not come true.’ Social geography professor Jan Latten told the paper that prognoses are crucial because of the length of time it takes to develop new residential areas in the Netherlands.

He points out that immigration has consistently been under-estimated and that construction has failed to keep up with the changes. This means, he said, that the one million estimate could well be on the low side.

Conijn said long waiting lists, first-time buyers and renters who cannot get a foot on the housing ladder, and the high rental and purchase prices are all evidence of the problems facing the housing market.

‘The shortage of housing can grow or shrink, but it is extremely dependent on demographic developments and people’s housing preferences,’ he said.

In total, permits to build 74,000 new homes were approved in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 10% on 2020 and the highest number in more than 10 years, according to the CBS.

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Holland Metropole heads for MIPIM

The Holland Metropole alliance will be taking part in the MIPM real estate trade fair in Cannes from March 15 to 18, with a heavyweight delegation of top tier cities, developers and investors. Several leading Dutch architects’ bureaus and innovative start-ups are also part of the package – providing a complete cross section of the Dutch real estate sector.  

This year, the Holland Metropole focus is on climate change and timber-based construction and MIPIM visitors will be able to find out more about the cutting edge work by the 14 alliance partners at the stand (C19.E).

The Netherlands also has a new government, and MIPIM visitors can to catch up on the latest measures to boost the supply of affordable housing at a national level, and find out more about the implications of the plans for international developers and investors.

Climate

Last year’s floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought home just how important it is to tackle climate change and to deal with excess water caused by increasingly heavy rainfall. After all, with some 25% of the Netherlands below sea level, the country as a whole is vulnerable to the impact of rising sea levels and excess river water.

Across the Dutch real estate sector, climate change targets are becoming increasingly important and the themes of circular construction, carbon emission reduction and water management are at the forefront of the Holland Metropole approach, whether local authority, developer or investor.

Timber-based construction is also top of the to-do list of every climate-aware developer and real estate investor.

Timber

In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, for example, developers, investors and local authorities have signed a new Timber Green Deal, based on a real commitment to the use of wood. 

‘Awareness has grown across everyone involved in the real estate and development sector that building with timber on a large scale is essential if we want to meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement and speed up the supply of housing,’ says Bob van der Zande, programme director Houtbouw MRA.

Timber based construction is environment friendly as well. Experts have calculated, for example, that if the one million new homes which the Netherlands will need by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Network

You can find out more about what Dutch cities and companies are doing in both these key areas by visiting the Holland Metropole stand.

As usual, the stand (C19.E) will also have a wide range of facilities on offer, from a bar and catering to charging points for mobiles and laptops, as well as plenty of room for networking and one-to-one meetings.

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Housing permits reach a record, as new minister ‘takes back control’

In total, permits to build 74,000 new homes were approved in the Netherlands last year, a rise of 10% on 2020 and the highest number in more than 10 years, according to the Dutch national statistics office CBS.

One third of the licences were given to build rental housing while the rest is made up of properties for sale – across all price ranges. Most new permits – 19,000 – were handed out in the province of Zuid Holland, which includes Holland Metropole partners Rotterdam and The Hague.

‘The number of permits is an indicator of the number of new homes which will be built in the coming years, but the average time to build after licencing is around two years,’ the CBS said. The total does not include new homes which are realised from repurposing other buildings, such as empty offices or schools.

Government plans

The figures were published just as new housing minister Hugo de Jonge outlined his plans to realise one million new homes over the next 10 years.

The minister told MPs earlier this month that he is currently working on a National Housing and Construction Agenda which will have six underlying themes: construction, housing for focus groups and the elderly, quality of life, sustainability, spatial planning and choices for the future.

‘This programmatic approach focuses more directly on concrete goals, monitoring and control so that the ministry can make sound agreements with everyone involved and to ensure everyone takes their fair share in solving public housing and planning issues,’ the minister told MPs.

Developers and investors have been calling on the government to take a more coordinating role in the provision of more residential housing for some time. De Jonge said earlier that he wants to speed up procedures and cut red tape. 

Coordination

The raw plan covering how the government intends to speed up construction will be presented in mid March, while in early April, the focus will be on housing for special groups such as the elderly and students. Later, attention will switch to affordable housing – both to buy and to rent – and the government is already committed to introducing more restrictions on private landlords. 

‘I want the government to take back control again with regard to this fundamental right to housing, as well as in the field of spatial planning,’ De Jonge said in a briefing to MPs.

The government’s role in recent years has become too small and for too long people have believed that the market would automatically provide a solution, he said. ‘It is all the more important to take control now because of the enormous shortage [of housing].’

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Supply continues to shrink as housing market pressures intensify

Figures from the Dutch real estate agents’ association NVM show that the supply of housing in the Netherlands continues to shrink, with 23% fewer houses changing hands in the final quarter of 2021, when compared with the year-earlier period.

At the same time, the average price of an existing home rose almost 21% to €438,000 while for new builds, the increase was 14%, to €466,000. Some 80% sold for more than the asking price.

‘Homeowners are not putting their property up for sale without the prospect of finding another suitable one,’ NVM chairman Onno Hoes said. ‘The completion and realisation of new construction is stagnating… which is why we need to increase the volume of new construction quickly.’

According to NVM figures, just 8,800 new homes were put on the market in the final quarter of 2021, down 22% on 2020 and the lowest figure since 2013. Of them, 40% cost more than €500,000 and around one thousand more than €1m.

Consultation

Hoes called on new housing minister Hugo de Jonge to set up what he called a “Construction Stimulation Team” which would include a wide range of organisations from across the real estate and public sector, and which would support the minister constructively with advice and help accelerate the construction process.

The new cabinet has set a target of building 100,000 new homes every year in an effort to meet demand. ‘People have to be able to count on the security of having their own home,’ De Jonge said in a ministry video message.

Economists point out that even if the government’s plans are realized, new homes are not built overnight and there will be little impact in the short term.

Pensioners

Real estate agent Lana Gerssen, who heads the NVM’s residential section, said that certain groups are already being blamed for the current shortage of homes. ‘Pensioners are being told [they are a problem] because they do not want to move,’ she said. ‘But that is too easy. There are no homes on offer which are suitable for this group.’

Gerssen said there is a role for the real estate sector in solving this, by mapping supply and demand. ‘This will enable us to help local, regional and national government with their housing policy issues,’ she said.

Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has already welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective, as long as he has a proper coordinating role across all the government departments involved in the process.

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Dutch housing market challenge has ‘no quick fix’, says new minister

New Dutch housing minister Hugo de Jonge has described the challenge he faces to increase the number of affordable homes in the Netherlands as ‘considerable’ and says that there is no quick fix.

De Jonge, the first minister appointed to focus purely on the housing market in 10 years, told MPs during his first debate on the government’s plans that he intends to take a coordinating role in solving the problem.

‘For too long we have thought that the market can solve things,’ he said.

The new government has pledged to increase the housing stock in the Netherlands by one million units by 2030 and to take a number of other steps to boost the supply of more affordable rental and owner-occupier homes.

‘If we are convinced that the government should be more involved, then we have to have the instruments at our disposal to realise more housing,’ he said.

Red tape

First of all, the government plans to make it easier to actually build a house. It currently takes around seven years from start to finish, with planning and permissions taking an average of five. ‘We have to do something to speed up the procedures,’ De Jonge said.

Prefabrication and standardization will also have a role to play, he said. ‘It might sound boring, to have all the same sorts of houses, but that is no longer the case.’.

Research by construction sector lobby group Cobouw and the Follow The Money news platform suggests that many of the housing units scheduled to be built up to 2025 will never materialize because there is no uniform overview of which plans are realistic and which have not yet been approved.

Only 400,000 of the 1.2 million homes currently being planned are actually confirmed because of the different definitions used by local authorities, FTM said.


For example, in Noord Holland province, a project is considered to be ‘hard’ if the local authority votes in favour of the zoning plan. But in Overijssel, a project is only confirmed if the zoning plan has been declared to be final.

Coen van Rooyen, director of residential construction lobby group WoningbouwersNL told the regional paper De Stentor that all housing projects should be collected together in a single website.

‘Then you can see what plans there are, from those at the very early stage to completion,’ he said. ‘If nothing happens on a project for six months then an alarm should go off and the minister should be able to contact the local planning chief and find out what is going on.’

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Hugo de Jonge to take charge of housing crisis for new Dutch government

As expected, the new Dutch government has a specialised minister for housing, who will be charged with solving the country’s residential property crisis and boosting the supply of affordable homes.

Hugo de Jonge, a Christian Democrat who was health minister in the outgoing government, is moving to the home affairs ministry in the new role of minister for housing and spatial planning.

De Jonge, who has headed up the government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters he was very much looking forward to his new role. ‘I am very pleased that I can take on this new task in such an important field,’ he said. ‘But I do have to learn the ropes.’

Complex issues

The new government – a four-party coalition made up of two Liberal and two Christian parties – has made tackling the housing crisis a key part of its strategy for the next few years and unveiled a wide range of plans in the coalition agreement.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing had come from across the real estate sector and the new government has said the current building regulations, seen as a major bottleneck to development, will be streamlined. The government will also continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

De Jonge, 44 and a primary school teacher by profession, came in for considerable criticism during the coronavirus pandemic, partly because of the slow start to the Dutch vaccination programme, but was praised for his dedication and grasp of the complex issues.

Welcomed

Dutch developers’ association NEPROM has welcomed the new government’s plans, saying the resources earmarked for housing will make it possible for the new minister to be effective and that the new coalition agreement is an excellent basis for cooperation in the coming years.

In particular, the decision to allocate €7.5bn to infrastructure in new residential areas will help improve the quality of living environment, NEPROM chairwoman Desirée Uitzetters said. ‘The new minister will have a coordinating role in this,’ she said.  ‘In this way, the money from various ministries can be used precisely in those places where the return is maximised.’

Residential construction sector lobby group WoningBouwersNL, which includes several Holland Metropole partners among its membership, is also positive about the appointment of a minister to oversee housing market developments.

‘If De Jonge puts the same amount of energy into the housing crisis as he did the corononavirus crisis, then we are fully confident that important advances will be made,’ chairman Piet Adema said.

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Eindhoven takes action to prevent land speculation

Private owners wishing to sell property and land in the central Fellenoord region of Eindhoven will have to first offer it to the municipality, under new rules which will be introduced later this year.

The city council has set aside €50m to fund the project, which is aimed at combating property speculation in the district, which borders the main railway station. This, in turn, will make it easier for housing corporations to build social housing on the site and meet residential targets, city officials say.

‘I realise that this will anger companies which want to make money but if we leave the Fellenoord area to the market then we cannot guarantee we will meet our ambitious targets,’ Eindhoven housing chief Yasin Torunoglu told the Eindhovens Dagblad.  

‘Speculative sales and developments which don’t materialise are deadly. So we are bringing in the new rules to make sure this area remains affordable for the average resident.’

Eindhoven has plans to develop some 7,500 new homes on the Fellenoord site, alongside offices, and plenty of greenery.

The city is also planning ‘where possible’ to offer land owned by the municipality and designated for residential development to housing corporations ahead of the private sector. This too is aimed at ensuring Rotterdam has enough affordable housing, city officials say.

Illustration

Part of the planned development. Illustration: Eindhoven/KCAP

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New Dutch government brings back housing minister role

The Netherlands is to get a new minister for housing when the new cabinet takes office in early January. The decision was announced at the presentation of the coalition’s plans, which have now been finalised, nine months after the general election.

Calls for a minister with specific responsibility for housing have come from across the real estate sector and the job is seen as essential for ensuring that the shortage of housing is tackled. That shortfall is expected to reach one million by 2030.

The new four-party coalition – a continuation of the current government – has agreed to speed up the current building programme, from 75,000 new houses a year to 100,000 a year. Some two-thirds will be classed as affordable.

Redevelopment

In addition, the coalition aims to create 15,000 temporary housing units and 15,000 units through the redevelopment of redundant offices on an annual basis.

The building regulations will be streamlined and the government will continue to invest in specific projects via a public housing fund.

In new housing developments, public services and transport will be crucial and the government is setting up a €7.5bn fund to ensure proper road and rail connections to the 14 areas already earmarked for intensive residential development.  

The real estate sector will be encouraged to innovate and adopt circular strategies, and the construction of prefab homes will be increased.

Rental sector

In terms of the rental sector, social housing rents will be lowered for people on low incomes and increased for high earners living in rent-controlled properties. A limited form of right to buy will also be introduced for some social housing tenants.

The extra tax which housing corporations pay on their rental income will be phased out, on the basis of performance targets, freeing up more cash for new development.

Measures will also be taken to ensure mid-market rental properties remain affordable for tenants, and profitable enough to attract institutional investors. Permanent rental contracts will become the norm again.

A registration or licensing system will be introduced for landlords, to help local authorities combat discrimination and scams.

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Location is key to climate adaptive construction

Dutch planners need to take more account of the likely impact of climate change when designating areas for residential development, according to a senior government advisor.

Peter Glas, who heads the government’s Delta Commission on flood prevention, said that some 820,000 new homes are currently scheduled to built in parts of the Netherlands which are likely to be impacted by climate change, particularly flooding.

If the long-term consequences of climate change are not taken into account, this will lead to additional costs and damage in the future, Glas said in a new report. Water and soil systems must be given a more prominent role in site selection, design and construction and, he said, planners must avoid construction in areas which will be needed to implement climate adaptive measures.

Sea level

In particular, this means the Netherlands must not sanction building in flood plains or areas already designated to store excess water and there should be further restrictions on house building outside the dykes, he said.

Some 26% of the Netherlands is below sea level and a further 29% is susceptible to river flooding.

Measures should also be taken to prevent any further lowering of the groundwater table. Introducing the concept of ‘groundwater neutral construction’, he said, would be one way of ensuring this. 

Location

‘The flooding in Limburg has shown that it is not possible to prevent flooding at all times… and it is important to be able to cope with extreme weather situations which go beyond current design standards,’ Glas said. ‘We have to look more closely at where and how we are building.’

The sea level along the Dutch coast will probably be 1.2 metres higher by the end of this century than at the start, but the difference could be as much as two metres, according to calculations by Dutch meteorological office KNMI.

The Dutch coast is protected by a complicated system of dykes, seawalls and sluices built after the devastating floods of 1953 which left over 1,800 people dead.

Climate adaptive construction and water management has a central role in the strategy of Holland Metropole partners, and was at the heart of the alliance’s recent appearances at the Expo Real and Provada trade fairs

Illustration:

Ice on the flood plains of the river Rhine near Wageningen. Photo: Despositphotos.com

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Age matters: the real estate sector faces major challenges

Ensuring the elderly can remain living independently for as long as possible will be crucial in helping deal with the challenges presented by an aging population, according to both real estate and care experts.

While the shortage of homes for youngsters starting out on the housing ladder is a current political priority, there is an equally pressing problem at the other end of the spectrum which will require concerted action in the coming years, the experts say.

Hans Adriani, who chairs a government-backed taskforce on housing and care, told a recent conference organized by Holland Metropole partner Bouwinvest that 110,000 new level floored homes will be needed in the coming years, as well as 50,000 sheltered housing units and 50,000 residential care beds.

Providing this will require close cooperation between local authorities, investors and care institutions, he said. In 2020, just one in three local authority areas had analysed how to deal with the shortage of housing for the elderly, but now ‘it is a theme in every municipality.’

While developing more senior housing has a role to play, there are other challenges ahead, such as the shortage of care workers. According to elderly care umbrella group Actiz, the demand for specialist care for the elderly will only increase, while the number of workers will remain relatively constant. This too means efforts need to be made to ensure the elderly can remain living independently as long as possible, and that their wishes are centre stage.

‘The future of elderly care is at home, and some 90% of the over 75s live independently,’ Actiz chairwoman Anneke Westerlaken told the Financieele Dagblad in an interview last month. ‘We cannot continue to provide care as we do now… and this development is going to place enormous strain on patients, care providers and patients’ social networks.’

Westerlaken says the care sector cannot solve the problem on its own. ‘Society in general must be kinder to the elderly, and they too have a role to play, by maintaining their own networks as they grow older.’

An example of how the real estate industry can help in this community-based approach is the LIFE complex in Amsterdam’s western docklands, which is part of the Bouwinvest healthcare portfolio. LIFE, developed by Holland Metropole partner VORM, is a multi-use complex for the over 50s, combining age-adaptive housing units at all price levels, plus community areas, a restaurant and a special section for people with dementia. The aim, says Erwin Drenth, director Dutch Healthcare Investments at Bouwinvest, is to create an inclusive building where everyone feels comfortable growing old.

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No brainer: homes and cafes added to Rotterdam office district

Rotterdam councillors have voted in favour of a new masterplan to turn the Brainpark business district into a lively mixed-use area, with housing, cafes and shops as well as offices.

‘At the moment there is not much to do in Brainpark 1 after office hours, and this is a waste because it is easy to get to by bike and public transport, and is close to the Erasmus University campus,’ says the city’s housing chief Bas Kurvers. ‘So we are working together with the private sector to make this part of the city a great place to live, work, study and relax.’

The project involves building between 2,500 and 3,000 housing units in the district, of which 30% will be rent controlled. In addition, some 45,000 square metres of space will be available for both commercial and community functions, while the public space will be redeveloped with more focus on greenery and water.

The offices already located in the district will either be rebuilt or replaced by more energy efficient options and traffic pollution from the nearby A16 motorway will also be tackled with multifunctional noise barriers

Now the concept has been finalised and backed by the council, city officials and developers will start fleshing out the plans. If planning procedures can be completed quickly, work will start on the first buildings in 2023.

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Amsterdam to redevelop city centre naval depot

One of the last undeveloped parts of central Amsterdam will be turned into a mixed use residential area and park, with plenty of room for innovative industry, under new plans drawn up by the city council.

The Marineterrein area, close to Amsterdam’s main railway station, has been used by the navy since 1655. The armed forces are now moving out, clearing the way for the redevelopment of a large city centre site which is almost entirely surrounded by water.

The plans include 800 homes – a mixture of social and non-rent controlled housing and owner occupier properties – plus small firms and educational institutes. Most of the buildings will be no higher than 30 metres, but there will be an option for two landmark constructions of 40 metres high.

Some 70% of the 12.8 hectare site will not be built on and original buildings, such as the gateway and the commander’s mansion, will be renovated and repurposed. A small part of the land, including a heliport, will remain under navy control.

Amsterdam has now opened up the project for consultation until the end of January. A final decision on the plans will be taken next summer.  

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Amsterdam acts to stop property speculators snapping up homes

Amsterdam has become the first Dutch city to set out how it will stop speculators buying up existing property to rent out, when new legislation allowing them to do so comes into force next year.

City officials plan to ban anyone from buying housing costing less than €512,000 without a commitment to live in it for at least four years. The sales ban would not apply to property which is already being rented out, as long as that was for at least six months prior to the sale.

Some 30% of homes in the Dutch capital are currently in the hands of private investors – both developers who build and rent out property and those who buy existing homes as an investment.

But landlords say the new measure, expected to come into effect on January 1, will not help ease the shortage of affordable housing in the Dutch capital.

The private landlords association Vastgoed Belang says the proposal will lead a greater shortage of rental homes, particularly in the mid-market sector. ‘Councils are prioritizing people who want to buy above newcomers on the housing market and people who can’t or don’t want to buy,’ the organisation said in a reaction.

Housing ladder

The new legislation is one of several measures the government is bringing in to try to help first-time buyers get a foot on the housing ladder. The cabinet has already increased the property transfer tax for investors from January this from 2% to 8% and this would appear to be having an impact.

According to preliminary research by the Dutch land registry, or Kadaster, private landlords bought 10,384 homes in the six months to the end of June, the lowest figure since 2013, and the equivalent of 7.4% of all properties to come on the market.

One third of all houses sold in the four big Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht last year ended up in the hands of private landlords.

In total, 8.6% of the Dutch housing stock is in the hands of private investors, defined by the Kadaster as organisations or private individuals who own at least three properties, and this is the lowest percentage in Europe, according to Vastgoed Belang.

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Provada 2021: Holland Metropole partners highlight climate change

Climate adaptation and circular construction are central issues at the three-day Provada property trade fair in Amsterdam which starts on October 26, and the Holland Metropole partners are showcasing their own approaches.

In Rotterdam, built around a major river delta, the role of climate change and the transition towards green energy are central themes across all planning decisions, given that the pressure on every square metres in the city is immense.  

The city has recently embarked on a programme to make better use of 18 square kilometres of city roofs, which are being turned into gardens, water buffers and more. Even the roof of the new Doelen entertainment complex will become a ‘green oasis’, says the city’s planning chief Bas Kurvers. ‘The roof will collect rainwater during heavy rainfall and contribute to cooling if it is hot. Everyone benefits,’ he says.

In Eindhoven too, measures to absorb water and boost the amount of greenery are incorporated in every street maintenance project. Project developers are also required to include water management in all new projects through changes to local planning laws.  ‘Climate adaptation is an essential part of our residential housing strategy,’ says Eindhoven’s climate chief Rik Thijs. ‘It is not simply about the technical solutions for the challenges presented by climate change but a way of strengthening Eindhoven as a pleasant place to live and locate.’

It is not just the Netherlands bigger cities that are putting climate change at the heart of their strategy. Holland Metropole developers and investors are also taking a lead in sustainable project development.

Bouwinvest, which aims to meet the Paris targets by 2045, has made social returns as important a part of its investment approach as the financial ones. ‘Investing in reducing energy usage is not only a question of taking responsibility for the energy transition. We see it as a pre-condition to ensure long-term returns for our clients,’ says Bernardo Korenberg head of Sustainability and Innovation.

Vesteda has developed a tool to provide insight into the six most important risks climate change will bring to the Netherlands, ranging from a breach of the flood defence system to heat stress.

‘We integrate the sustainability performance of potential new acquisitions and large renovations into our investment decision process,’ says chief investment officer Pieter Knauff. ‘This is not only good for our tenants and society, but also encourages our people to come up with creative, tailor-made solutions in every project, to optimize sustainability performance, living comfort and financial returns.’

Syntrus Achmea, in turn, has drawn up road maps covering different scenarios for making its portfolios Paris proof, in order to help investors make more informed choices. ‘Our ambition is to become carbon neutral,’ says Jos Sentel, manager of Strategy & Research. ‘On average the carbon dioxide emissions which can be attributed to our residential portfolio are 34% lower than in the reference year of 1990, and our target is a 50% reduction, no later than 2030 and fully neutral in 2050.’

At VORM, too, the impact of the company’s role as a project developer when it comes to social themes is an increasingly important part of its future. ‘We have a responsibility to organise this properly,’ says concept developer Wouter Disseldorp. The company has, for example, been using wadis and water buffer zones as well as more low-carbon building materials to both head off and mitigate climate change.

This integrated approach is being taken across the development chain. AM, for example, sees water management as an integral part of area development. ‘If you include it at an early stage, water can be used to add quality, and not simply be seen as a hazard,’ says chief executive Ronald Huikeshoven.

‘As planners, we are facing responsibilities that go beyond delivering single solutions for single issues,’ says Irma van Oort, partner at architecture bureau KCAP. ‘We work with an integral approach to sustainability and draw up comprehensive concepts which will have a strong effect at every level, from climate-adaptive urban and landscape design to sustainable mobility solutions and construction details that lower the carbon footprint of our buildings.’

By incorporating climate adaptation into their projects, the Holland Metropole partners say they are benefiting both clients, tenants and investors, as well as society at large.  ‘In developing in a climate adaptive and nature inclusive way, we can make new projects resistant to climate change and contribute to biodiversity as well,’ says Edward Zevenbergen, director of projects BPD North-West. ‘We go for solutions which improve both the quality of the building and the location.’

Check out the Holland Metropole partner stands

Find out which Holland Metropole partner experts are speaking and where

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Rotterdam is home to the world’s biggest floating office

Rotterdam is home to the Global Centre on Adaptation, an international broker for climate change and housed in the world’s biggest floating office, which has been largely constructed from timber.

The GCA’s new home is a massive timber ark, which is completely off grid and self-sufficient in energy. The south facing roof is covered with 900 square metres of solar panels and the ark uses a water-based heat exchange system for heating. The north-facing roof is green to store water and help keep the construction cool.  

Everything used in the ark is reusable and recyclable, which means the construction can be taken apart and moved to a new location. The GCA office, which is ranked BREEAM Outstanding, even has its own herb garden.

‘I am delighted that GCA will be housed in a building that showcases pioneering climate-resilient office design and I hope it will inspire others to future-proof their infrastructure,’ said GCA chief executive Patrick Verkooijen. ‘Taking suitable steps before disaster strikes not only makes economic sense but can also help us to mitigate against climate change.”

Rotterdam’s Rijnhaven is currently being redeveloped into a new city centre with a floating park covering 18 hectares and high-rise with a total of 2,500 new homes.

The project to develop the floating office was backed by the city of Rotterdam.

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Holland Metropole alliance heading for Expo Real

The Holland Metropole alliance is heading for the Expo Real real estate trade fair in Munich with a team of 24 partners, plus five start-ups in the real estate sector.

This year, the use of timber in modern construction, as well as the importance of climate change and adaptation, take centre stage on the Holland Metropole stand over the three days of the fair.  

The recent floods in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium brought home just how important it is to tackle climate change, adapt to it and to deal with excess water caused by increasingly heavy rainfall.

Across the Dutch real estate sector, climate change targets are becoming increasingly important and the themes of circular construction, carbon emission reduction and water management are at the forefront of the Holland Metropole approach, whether local authority, developer or investor.

‘We integrate climate adaptation into the area, not at the level of individual buildings. Water, for example, is not a threat but an opportunity to devise and realise distinctive environments with the ability to capture and buffer water,’ says Ronald Huikeshoven, chief executive of developer AM.

Timber too has an important role to play in construction of the future. Experts have calculated, for example, that if the one million new homes which the Netherlands will need by 2030 are made primarily from wood rather than concrete, it would save 50 megatons of carbon dioxide emissions.

‘Industrialisation allows the construction sector to offer a speedy way of making sure the housing supply meets demand. Wood is light and easy to work with, making it extremely suitable for such processes,’ says Wouter Disseldorp, concept developer at VORM.

Much too depends on people seeing the advantages of timber. ‘We try to persuade our clients to go for wood, and while lots of people talk about it, they have to actually take the plunge, rather than say it is all too difficult. Of course, a building is never 100% wood, but it would be an enormous step forward if we got most of the concrete out of a building,’ says Edward Schuurmans, a partner at architects KCAP.

This year, Expo Real runs from October 11 to 13, offering a networking platform to some 1,200 exhibitors and thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The 23rd edition of the trade fair is taking place against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, both of which have a leading role across the conference programme. In total, 121 discussion panels, speeches, forums and other events will take place across the seven halls of the Messe München venue during the three-day fair.

To find out more about the way the Holland Metropole partners are tackling climate change, as well as the great range of investment opportunities on offer throughout the region, please visit them at stand A2.130.

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Dutch government to invest €1bn in new housing over 10 years

The Dutch government is to spend €1bn over the next 10 years to stimulate the supply of new housing, to reduce the shortage of affordable rental housing and create more options for first time buyers.

The plan was included in the coalition government’s 2022 spending plans, which were published on September 21, and highlights the urgency of the current situation, ministers say.

Details of how the money will be spent have not yet been published and it is likely that the next cabinet will take the lead. The current cabinet is operating in a caretaker capacity while a new coalition is put together following the March general election.

Action

Caretaker home affairs minister Kasja Ollongren said that despite advances made in the past year – such as agreements to develop major residential areas in 14 separate locations nationwide – much still needs to be done to boost the housing supply.

Research is currently underway, for example, into extending the points-based system for calculating maximum rents to cover property outside the current rent-controlled sector, Ollongren told MPs in a briefing.

However, she warned, ‘tough regulation will lead to greater affordability in the short term, but will reduce investors willingness to invest, and therefore impact on the availability of homes in the mid to long term.’

Debate

During two days of debate on the 2022 spending plans, MPs also voted in favour of slashing a further €500m from the extra tax which social housing landlords pay. There is, however, majority support to see the tax scrapped altogether and that too will be an issue for the next cabinet.  

Report

Despite the cash injection for new housing, it may not be enough to get housing development up to speed. In June, a report commissioned by Ollongren said that the next Dutch government will have to invest almost €20bn to facilitate several major housing and infrastructure in the coming years.

Without a significant contribution from the state, new homes may not be built at the rate required and they will be more expensive than planned, the report, by the Rebel research group, said. Several of the projects are located in the Holland Metropole region.

In total, the 14 projects in the study involve building 436,000 new homes around the bigger Dutch cities, of which 210,000 can be completed by 2030 and 70% will be classed as ‘affordable’.

One million homes

In February, an alliance of developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations said that one million new homes need to be built in the the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations said at the time they hoped their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Lagging supply

So far new building is lagging behind government expectations. Construction industry economic institute EIB says that it expects 63,000 new homes will be completed this year, which is well below the government’s target of 75,000 new build and conversions.

Nevertheless, the number of permits granted each year is going up, and has risen 30% since 2019, when new home construction reached a low point, the EIB said.

Earlier in September, thousands of people took part in a demonstration in Amsterdam, calling for more investment in housing.

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‘The elderly form a diverse group who don’t want to move’

One way often mooted to help solve the housing crisis in the Netherlands is to encourage older people whose children have left home to downsize and free up large property for a new, young family.

However, it is proving difficult to set this in motion because developers, housing corporations and local authorities are not actually talking to elderly residents about their needs, according to Groningen University researcher Petra de Jong.

De Jong, an economic geographer specializing in housing demographics, has researched the issue of housing for the elderly for her PhD thesis. Persuading the elderly to move home requires alternatives that actually meet their needs, she said: ‘They need to be attractive and affordable, and people usually want to stay in the same neighbourhood.’

Urgency

While older people are often described as ‘occupying’ large houses, ‘as long as they don’t feel the urgency to move because, for example, of their physical limitations, then they don’t see the need,’ De Jong told NOS Radio 1 news.

‘Yes, the house might be a bit large and the garden a bit difficult to manage, but people are often attached to both their home and their locality,’ she said. ‘It has been the stage for many precious memories.’

In addition, elderly home owners have often paid off their mortgages, so the costs are low. ‘And aside from this, moving demands money and creates upheaval, so it gets put off as long as possible,’ she said.

This means the standard approach to housing for seniors is not enough to have an impact,’ De Jong said.  ‘They should be involved from the start of the development process. Talk to them and find out what their demands and preferences are,’ she said. ‘But don’t pretend to know what the elderly want, because they are an extremely diverse group.’

Housing targeting seniors in the Netherlands is often marketed at the over-55s.

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Cut the housing shortage by better use of current stock: report

The Netherlands could offset some of the shortage of housing in the short term by making better use of its current housing stock, according to a report by research group Platform31.

Some 40% of dwellings are currently lived in by one person, and the average amount of space is around 65 square metres each – almost 20 square metres more than in Germany or Belgium, the report points out.

The report highlights three areas where action can be taken: putting more people in the same space, more housing in the same space, and encouraging the elderly to move to smaller homes.

Living alone

Although some people choose to live alone in big apartments, there are ways to encourage a better use of space, Platform31’s Frank Wassenberg told broadcaster NOS. ‘Living with more people should be rewarded,’ he said. ‘The more people who can share the current space, the less you have to build.’

One way in which people could be encouraged to share is stop the financial penalties facing people who do. For example, banks and other mortgage providers can be difficult about allowing home owners to rent out a floor.

Tough rules on tenants rights may also deter people from renting a room or floor to another person, Platform31 said.

Social security laws are another factor, the researchers say. For example, two pensioners or two people claiming welfare benefits are given hundreds of euros less in state support if they share a home.

Friends contracts

Allowing young adults to share properties – using so-called Friends contracts after the popular series – would also reduce the pressure on starter homes, the researchers say.

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The Netherlands has eight million homes

Despite the shortage of housing in the Netherlands, the national housing stock has increased by one million to eight million over the past 16 years, according to August figures from national statistics office CBS.

In total, the supply of housing increased by 39,000 units in the first six months of this year, including both new build and conversions.

The province of Zuid-Holland, home to Holland Metropole partners Rotterdam and The Hague, has most housing – a total of 1.7 million homes. Noord-Holland, which includes Amsterdam, has 1.4 million of the total.

Single people

Given the national population is now around 17.4 million, the eight million figure means there are 2.2 residents for each home, compared with 4.8 people 100 years ago. Nevertheless, there is still a major shortage of properties, because of the surge in people living alone, the CBS said.

Amsterdam for example, now has 464,000 homes for its population of some 860,000, or fewer than two people per property.

One million new homes

In February, a consortium of 34 developers, construction companies, lobby groups, housing corporations and tenants associations formed a massive alliance to tackle the housing shortage in the Netherlands.

In total, they say that one million new homes need to be built in the Netherlands in the next 10 years to meet demand.

The organisations hope their plans will form the backbone of the next government’s strategy on housing.

Current government strategy involves realising 75,000 new homes a year through new build and converting other buildings.

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