It has been possible for some time that owners of office buildings in Amsterdam were fined if they did not report vacancy on time, but since December 2016 it is also possible that owners of houses are fined if they do not report vacancy on time. With this fine, the municipality of Amsterdam wants to prevent further vacancy of houses in the city. The first fine was therefore imposed in September 2017 to combat the vacancy of homes. If we may believe alderman Ivens (Housing), more will follow. How does it work?
What is vacancy?
According to the Leegstandwet (Empty Vacancy Act), vacancy is when a house, office building or part of it is not actually used by a tenant or other user. There is also vacancy if the use has the apparent intent to prejudice the operation of the law or the vacancy ordinance. With this second provision, the intention was clearly to retain the freedom to take action against constructions in which the building appears to be sufficiently in use, but which, in the opinion of the government, is not.
Obligation to report
If, for whatever reason, a house or office building is vacant for more than six months, the owner is obliged to report this to the municipality. If an owner fails to do so, he is in violation of the law. If he complies with the reporting obligation, he will consult with the owner within three months. The circumstances of the case will be taken into account, but the municipality will mainly want to ensure that the property is put back into use.
Obligatory nomination user
If the property is suitable for use and has been vacant for longer than 12 months, the Municipal Executive may nominate a user to the owner. The owner is then obliged to offer this user a user agreement within three months of the nomination. After the nomination, the owner still has the option of attracting another user, provided that this user actually occupies the premises within a reasonable period of time. If the property is not suitable for use, the Municipal Executive may require the owner to make the necessary arrangements to make the property suitable for use again.
For a private landlord or owner-occupier, the fine is €2500 if the vacancy is not reported on time. For a professional landlord, the fine is €5000,- if the vacancy is not reported on time per empty house and for an empty building, the fine is €7500,-. However, this amount can even increase if the owner does not report any vacancy after the fine has been imposed. In that case, the municipality has the possibility to impose a further penalty of €10,000. All in all, the total amount can increase considerably if no notification is made, and it is therefore advisable for an owner to report vacancy of a house or office building to the municipality in good time.
If you have received or expect to receive a fine for vacancy and you are looking for legal advice, please contact M2 Advocaten.