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maarten van den heuvel

From the practice of M2 Advocaten: VvE law

It sometimes happens that a new owner presents himself within a HOA who has certain plans and requests permission for this. This was also the case in a case in which M2 Advocaten was involved.

This case involved a hotel owner who had bought a residential apartment on the first floor and wanted to add this floor to his adjacent hotel and exploit four hotel rooms. The HOA did not think this was a good plan and did not give permission to change the purpose of the apartment from “living” to “hotel/lodging”.

The owner did not agree and requested a replacement authorization from the Subdistrict Court to operate a hotel in the apartment. One of the arguments put forward by the owner was that it was unfair that another owner had been given (conditional) permission to rent out his salvage through Airbnb, while operation as a hotel was not allowed. The Subdistrict Court saw this differently and judged that operation as a hotel was not comparable to renting through Airbnb. The replacement authorization was not granted.

The owner did not give up and appealed. On behalf of the HOA, M2 Advocaten argued, among other things, that there are risks to a commercial party in the building and that – by extension – depreciation of the apartments would be possible. The Court of Appeal agreed. Another implication to a commercial operation is that the hotel may be transferred or changed in concept at any time. According to the Court of Appeal, this makes the apartments less attractive when they are sold – compared to apartments to which this uncertainty does not apply.

It was also argued on behalf of the HOA that the operation of four hotel rooms on the first floor cannot be equated with the rental of a storage room via Airbnb. Hotel operation is a permanent situation, in which the public-law destination is also converted into “hotel/lodging”, while rental through Airbnb is a temporary situation, which can be discontinued at any time by the HOA and in which the public-law destination remains “living”. This was also upheld by the Court. The replacement authorization was not granted.

It is good to know for HOA that a replacement authorisation can be granted if a requested authorisation has been refused without reasonable grounds. In this case, the HOA’s grounds for refusing a hotel were reasonable. In the case of a change of purpose, it is good to know that literature suggests that a change of purpose should only be possible if the change is 1) personal, 2) temporary and 3) recoverable. In this case, this was not the case for the desired hotel destination.

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

Marius Rijntjes (rijntjes@m2advocaten.nl)

Houses alongside water

Airbnb agreement with Amsterdam

Last Thursday, Airbnb agreed to modify its website. The update limits the number of days a property can be let per year. According to the City of Amsterdam, this agreement has made it more difficult to use properties as illegal hotels. With these kind of rules and agreements, the municipality wants to ensure that houses, which are used illegally for tourist rentals, will become available again for house hunters. The legal limit that a resident is allowed to rent out his house to tourists is 60 days a year in Amsterdam, as you can read in previous blog. In practice, however, many properties are available for longer rentals on the Airbnb website, and are also rented out more than those 60 days. This is already actively enforced by the municipality, and there are hefty fines for this violation.

As of January 1, 2017, hosts will be able to see in their Airbnb account how many days they are still allowed to rent, and will not be able to rent the property for the rest of the year if they passed the 60-day limit. [1][2]

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

 

Ginio Beij (beij@m2advocaten.nl)

prohibition sign rolling suitcases

To be or not to Airbnb? Enforcement in Amsterdam

Previous blogs discussed what is enforced when it comes to B&B’s.

But what if you don’t want to start a B&B, but only want to rent out your house when you are on holiday? Through Airbnb, for example.

It is okay, if you follow two rules: no more than 60 days a year, and no more than 4 people can stay in your place. Is everyone following these rules? Definitely not. A 6-person quick-scan on the Airbnb website gives you more than enough choices of apartments/homes to choose from. Which is not allowed, because the maximum is 4 people. The City of Amsterdam wants Airbnb to make it impossible for a house to be rented out if they do not follow to the rules, so it is no longer possible to book for more than four people per house. The municipality also insists on compliance with the 60-day rule. So the municipality wants the website to automatically block a house as soon as it has been rented out for more than 60 days. In addition, the local authority wants Airbnb to provide the host’s address information to the local authority for more targeted monitoring. To date, Airbnb has no plans to provide that information, and Amsterdam is threatening to ban the platform in response.[1] The two parties are still discussing this. The municipality wants this data so that fewer violations are committed, making it easier for the municipality to track down offenders, and thus reducing the risk of nuisance from tourists.

How will this be enforced?

Detecting illegal activities is done in a number of ways: through reporting of neighbours or police, previous violations, mystery guests, and ‘scraping’ (by means of a computer program collecting data from a website)[2].  Sometimes this is done in an area-specific way: for example, if a neighbourhood receives a relatively large number of reports from the police and local residents, the entire neighbourhood is examined. Sometimes also in response to a report from a resident. Reporting by local residents is promoted from the municipality; a Summer Hotline was active last summer, and an online hotline Searchlight is still available.[3]

The municipality acknowledges that they do not have enough capacity to respond on all accusations from local residents, but promises to keep the reporters informed. The city centre, for example, has a total of 2.75 FTEs available for detecting and dealing with so-called illegal hotels, plus a couple indirectly from the Fire Safety department. [4]

Who is the offender?

In general, the law is executed in common cases where the property is only used for renting out to tourists and is not (or no longer) inhabited. This is then housing withdrawal and a violation of the Housing Act and the Regional Housing Ordinance. Or when a owner rent its house to too many tourists at the same time, which is not only a violation of the Housing Act and the Regional Housing Ordinance, but also a violation of fire safety.

A remarkable case has recently been heard by the District Court of Amsterdam. Father owns the floor on the ground floor, and used it as a pied-à-terre, so he is registered with another municipality. Daughter lives in the apartment above, and owns 1/100th of the pied-à-terre. Father is three to four days a week on the ground floor, the other days he rents it out to tourists. He arranges the Airbnb reservations, cleaning, and receives the rentals. Daughter receives the tourists and her number is given to them for questions; she receives no compensation for this. Unfortunately, this is not legal. It’s not allowed to rent a second home to tourists during periods when you’re not there. It is only allowed to keep a second home in Amsterdam if the second home is used by the tenant/owner him/herself, so you are never allowed to rent a second home to tourists in Amsterdam. On top of that, they rent out more than 60 days a year. The municipality therefore sees this as a withdrawal of the house from the housing market, for which they did not have a permit, and therefore a violation of the Housing Act and the Regional Housing Ordinance. Father will therefore receive the full fine of €12000. Daughter in the first instance as well. The Court ruled that this is not proportional; although she is complicit in the violation, she helps, but receives no compensation. The District Court is also of the opinion that if father had not rented the apartment, it would not have been plausible that she had committed the offence. She therefore received a reduced fine of €3000.[5]

Recently it has also been possible for the municipality to enforce the same rules in houseboats, but this was not possible because houseboats were subject to other laws and regulations.[6]

Airbnb at rental property and HOA

For rental properties, it may be that the contract states whether (sub) letting is allowed, or that permission must first be requested from the landlord. In some cases the landlord even has the right to dissolve the rental contract and to vacate the property.[7]

If the property belongs to an HOA, it may be regulated whether or not renting through Airbnb is allowed, or permission must be requested first. Sometimes, however, this is a gray area and short rentals are not explicitly prohibited, as this is a relatively new phenomenon. For additional information on this topic, read on in this blog.

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

Lawyer Ginio Beij

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

Can a VvE ban AirBnB or Short Stay?

A previous blog has already extensively discussed the requirements to start a bed-and-breakfast (read this blog here).

A situation that also regularly occurs is that within an apartment building properties are used for AirBnB or short stay. Especially during short stays this can be a nuisance. A group of tourists spending a long weekend in Amsterdam can usually be a bit noisier than the average resident. For example, we are aware of cases where the common areas (corridors, elevator, stairwell) have been damaged.

The question is whether the VvE can prevent such use and how. Most split certificates (based on the model regulations) state that the owner may only use the apartment according to the purpose stated in the deed. If the apartment’s purpose is living, then the question is whether renting for AirBnB or Short Stay is contrary to that purpose.

Case law shows that especially with regular short stay rentals this is contrary to the purpose of living. In several judgments it has been determined that living is a matter of ‘permanent residence’ and that a short stay does not fit in with this. See, for example, this judgment.

For an VVE, it is advisable to explicitly include the ban on renting out for AirBnB or Short Stay in the demerger deed or the internal regulations (the latter is easier to achieve in practice than amending the demerger deed). In this way, there is clarity for all apartment owners. The VVE often also has the possibility to impose fines in case of violation of this prohibition, in order for an extra means of pressure to prevent unwanted rentals. These fines must also be recorded.

However, it is not always the case that a rental on the grounds of AirBnB or short stay is in conflict with the purpose of living. If, for example, an apartment owner is abroad once for 3 months and rents out once for that period, this does not have to detract from the sustainable use as a home. In that case, such an occasional rental does not conflict with the purpose of living. An example of this in this ruling.

It must therefore always be taken into consideration whether a rental for short stay or AirBnB purposes is prohibited. Usually, this rental will be in conflict with the living purpose, so that the VVE can prohibit this use and even impose fines. If it is an occasional rental, it may be different in some cases, but that is an exceptional situation.

Does this situation look familiar to you or would you like to discuss the situation in your home office? Feel free to contact us.

Lawyer Ginio Beij (beij@m2advocaten.nl)