Fine on illegal hotels in residences increased

Earlier in this blog we discussed when you, as a resident of Amsterdam, may or may not rent (parts of) a house to tourists.

Breaching the rules already resulted in a hefty fine of €13,500 under the Housing Act.

This fine has recently been increased to €20,500. In addition, in the event of a subsequent violation, a penalty can be imposed of another €50,000.

By increasing the fines, the municipality wants to make it even more unattractive to illegally rent out houses to tourists. This is to protect the housing stock in Amsterdam, where for years there has been an enormous shortage of (affordable) homes, and also to protect the living environment from possible nuisance or dangerous situations.

The municipality has also looked into the possibility of shortening holiday rentals from 60 to 30 days in the year, but this is not legally feasible at the moment.[1]

Would you like to know more? Please feel free to contact us.

Ginio Beij
beij@m2advocaten.nl

Inheritance. Municipality offer sufficiently clear?

An offer is sufficiently determinable when the determination of the commitments undertaken by the parties can be made according to predetermined criteria. These criteria may contain a subjective element because the further determination may be entrusted to a third party or to one of the parties. This was recently the case in a Supreme Court case. It concerned the following case.

“A” is the owner and leaseholder of an apartment in Amsterdam. At some point, the municipality of “A” makes an offer for the canon of the new leasehold. “A” has the choice between a fixed canon for 10 years or a ransom. The offer letter also states the following:

“An ‘ingrowth scheme’ applies to you. This means that you will receive a discount on the canon in the first two years of the new period. The ingrowth arrangement applies to each payment method. The discounts to which you are entitled are not included in the above-mentioned surrender sum and canon amounts. You will find these discounts on the invoices you receive in due course”.

Furthermore, the explanatory note to the offer letter states the following:

“Municipal calculation new land value and new canon.

The new land value is calculated by multiplying the number of m² of usable area by the price per m². Because the leasehold right is more than ten years old, you receive a 40% discount on the price per m². The new canon is calculated by multiplying the land value by the current canon percentage”.

“A” initially chooses a fixed canon for 10 years, but later changes this into a ransom. The municipality agrees.

Subsequently, a dispute arises between “A” and the municipality about how the ingrowth regulation affects “A’s” choice to pay a ransom. “A” was under the assumption that, in addition to the ingrowth discount, the 40% discount on the land value would also be deducted from the lump-sum payment.

In the subsequent procedure, “A” took the view primarily that no agreement had been reached with the municipality because the offer letter from the municipality did not make it clear how the discount under the ingrowth scheme should be calculated on the redemption price. The Court of Appeal of Amsterdam agrees with “A”. According to the Court of Appeal, the amount of the lump-sum payment offered is one of the essentials of the agreement to be concluded and, since the offer letter does not make it clear how it is to be calculated, the offer cannot be sufficiently determined as far as the lump-sum payment is concerned.

The Supreme Court takes a different view and finds that the Court of Appeal sets too strict requirements with respect to the determinability of the discount on the lump-sum payment. According to the Supreme Court, the fact that the offer letter and the explanation thereof do not state how the discount on the lump-sum discount pursuant to the ingrowth scheme must be calculated does not exclude the possibility that the offer letter and the explanation may also contain sufficient points of reference for the other party, for example by linking the discount on the lump-sum discount to the size of the discount on the annual canon amounts due when determining the discount on the lump-sum discount, according to the Supreme Court.

Moreover, the municipality rightly pointed out that in the offer letter it stated that the discount to which the ingrowth scheme entitles is not included in the ransom, but will only be included in the invoice which the municipality will send in due course. According to the Supreme Court, this means that the municipality must calculate the discount in accordance with the requirements of reasonableness and fairness and in accordance with the municipal decree on the ingrowth scheme.

All in all, a somewhat unsatisfactory ruling, especially now that the average citizen is not an expert on leasehold law, the subject matter is complex and the amounts involved are often substantial. Since this is the case, the government can be expected to avoid misunderstandings whatsoever about the amount of the new canon.

Would you like to know more? Feel free to contact us.

Marius Rijntjes (rijntjes@m2advocaten.nl)

Shared housing: rented out according to the rules?

Attention! As of 1 January 2017, the municipality of Amsterdam has changed the rules for renting/renting out houses for multiple occupancy. An update will follow a.s.a.p. on our website.

Amsterdam has a shortage of houses in all categories, including starters. The wish is to live independently, but the reality for many is that this is not financially feasible. Let alone that it will ever be your turn for a social rental home. One solution is to share a house; together with others, you then rent a house in the private sector and share the (high) burden. Everyone is happy: starters have a place in the city they can call home, and landlords can ask a higher rent for their house (after all, three people with a job can pay more than one or two).

Not a problem, is it?

Maybe so, because there are actually rules about when a rental property may or may not be occupied by a number of adults. So when do you legally rent a house to a group of people?

The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems.

The municipality has also realised this through the results of the study ‘Woningdelen in Amsterdam’ (House sharing in Amsterdam) of February 2016. This study was commissioned by the municipality, in response to the memorandum ‘Room for house dividers’ of January 2014.

The municipality would like to facilitate as many different forms of housing in the city as possible, but of course without compromising the quality of life. In order to prevent excesses, rules have been drawn up that must be met in order for it to be allowed to share rental accommodation. On the one hand, these are rules for non-self-contained dwellings, such as student residences, in which a room is rented out. On the other hand, these are rules for independent residences that can be rented in various ways by a number of people.

So when is a house a student house, and must those rules be met, and when is it a house rented by a group? And when are there ‘abuses’ that should be enforced? The study of February 2016 shows that for almost all parties, tenants, landlords and enforcers, this is not unequivocal.

An example:

  1. Three adults live in a house with three bedrooms and a living room, each using their own bedroom. They pay the rent per person to the landlord.
    b. Three adults live in a house with three bedrooms and a living room, they each use their own bedroom. They pay the rent from a joint account to the landlord.
    c. Three adults live in a house with three bedrooms and a living room, they each use their own bedroom. They pay the rent to one of the three housemates, who pays the full amount to the landlord.

Although they may seem the same, there are legal differences in these situations and they may all fall under a different category. They must comply with different rules on a case-by-case basis in order to be legally rented and let.

These three situations could be seen as follows:

  1. Can be seen as a roomwise rental in a dwelling for which a residence permit is required. For further information, see https://www.amsterdam.nl/wonen-leefomgeving/wonen/bijzondere-situaties/woningdelen/wonen-per-kamer/.
    b. Can be seen as a living group renting a house. For a legal situation, a number of other conditions must also be met in this case, which can be found at https://www.amsterdam.nl/wonen-leefomgeving/wonen/bijzondere-situaties/woningdelen/wonen-per-kamer/.
    c. Can be seen as residence, and is legal if certain rules are met, such as can be found at https://www.amsterdam.nl/wonen-leefomgeving/wonen/bijzondere-situaties/woningdelen/inwonen/.

The differences are small in these situations and therefore there is little support for maintaining a relationship, because the feeling of legal inequality is encouraged. It is therefore possible that for this reason the municipality sometimes does not take action. One effect of enforcement could be that the residents are evicted. Something that the municipality does not aspire to, since the offence is generally not intentionally committed by the residents, nor by the landlord.

The real excesses, in which there are more adult tenants than rooms or in which fire safety is at stake, will of course be the subject of enforcement action.

As a result of the findings in the study, the municipality has decided to adjust part of the policy and create more clarity. It is the intention that this amended policy will come into force at the end of 2016. (See also https://www.amsterdam.nl/wonen-leefomgeving/wonen/bijzondere-situaties/woningdelen/)

If you are a landlord or tenant, and you have doubts whether you are legally (re)renting, do not hesitate to contact us.

Alicia Schoo
schoo@m2advocaten.nl