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Apartment law: Nuisance caused by room rental

Unfortunately, neighbors and nuisance often turn out to be a recurring combination. Not in the least when the adjacent house has been made available for room rental to students. In a case handled at the District Court of Amsterdam, the neighbour of the floor below appealed to the deed of division, which states that the apartment may only be used as a dwelling. The question is whether room rental does or does not fall under the term ‘dwelling’.

An apartment owner rents out separate rooms of his house to four students. As a result, the sub-neighbour experiences quite a lot of noise nuisance. The neighbour states that the students play loud music and receive a lot of visitors in the evening hours, causing noise in the apartment and stairwell late at night. These complaints are substantiated with an expert report and statements from the ground floors.

Are you fighting with a deed of division?

The neighbour states that the apartment owner does not comply with the deed of division which states that the apartment must be used as living space. According to the neighbour, the term ‘living space’ in this case means an ‘independent living space’ (just like in the administrative housing act) and room rental is therefore not allowed. If room letting is prohibited according to the demerger deed, the neighbour can take this as an opportunity to apply for a ban. In this case, however, such a ban on room rental was not directly included in the demerger deed or the demerger regulations. The definition in the Housing Act simply does not apply in this case, according to the District Court.

What the District Court can do is to examine whether it can be ruled according to objective standards that the parties have agreed that renting rooms is not permitted. This objectivity is an important condition because third parties must also be able to rely on the contents of the deed of division when inspecting it. In this case, the District Court did not find any leads in the deed of division and the demerger regulations that would show that it was once intended to prohibit room letting. In short, the neighbour could not demonstrate that the apartment owner with room rental was in violation of the demerger deed.

Unlawful nuisance?

Fortunately for the neighbour, he had also held the apartment owner responsible for unlawful nuisance (Article 5:37 of the Civil Code & Article 6:162 of the Civil Code). According to established case law of the Supreme Court, in order to determine whether unlawful annoyance actually occurred, the nature, seriousness and duration of the annoyance and the damage caused by it in connection with the further circumstances of the case are taken into account. According to the District Court, neighbours in an apartment complex will experience nuisance more quickly because they share several walls and floors with different neighbours. This requires, on the one hand, that one should take more account of each other, but, on the other hand, that one should also tolerate some nuisance from each other.

In this case, however, the apartment owner failed to take adequate measures against the nuisance despite knowing about it. The nuisance has also been substantiated by an expert report and is also confirmed by other neighbours. The District Court therefore ruled that there was unlawful nuisance caused by noise. The apartment owner will therefore have to take measures to prevent future nuisance.

If owners of the OA are in agreement, it is safest to include a ban on room rental in the demerger deed in order to prevent a lawsuit such as this.

Are you also struggling with nuisance from neighbours or would you like to rent out your apartment room by room and are you looking for advice? Please feel free to contact M2 Advocaten.

Lawyer 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

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)