How the Amsterdam Municipality

is worsening the (student) housing crisis: HVV2020

By ADELE MOLTEDO | December 17, 2019

Cover photo by Rajeshwari Singh / The Amsterdammer

On November 27, 2019, the municipality of Amsterdam discussed a new housing policy that will cause a devastating blow to the housing prospects of international students and many non-local Dutch students alike. The policy, in Dutch ‘Huisvestingsverordening 2020’ (HVV2020), is designed to drastically cut down the forms of house sharing and room renting currently available, crucially harming the prospects of students looking for a place to live in Amsterdam. All related information can be found in Dutch as published by the municipality of Amsterdam. This policy will take effect from January 2020. 

Despite HVV2020’s description beginning with a declaration of a “local priority for young people” in Amsterdam, the actions taken would exacerbate the current housing crisis. The young people to whom this policy refers, are those already connected with Amsterdam: people that have lived in the city for 6 continuous years (minimum) within the last 10 years, meaning only Amsterdammers or people who moved to the city at a really young age have the opportunity to receive priority when being assigned mid-range priced housing. Moreover, among the people who qualify for this priority, those who stayed registered on the website Woningnet the longest will be further prioritized. Woningnet is a Dutch organization owned by housing associations which aims to link homes to home-seekers, making housing associations’ jobs easier. International students will already find themselves at a disadvantage as there is no English version of the website. This “local priority for young people” is only the tip of the iceberg.

The direct effect HVV2020 will have on room rentals in particular, is the main problem. Room rentals to individual students (specifically mentioned in the document as the central category to be affected) is related to lower quality of life in the city and to the phenomenon of families being forced out of the housing market. To solve those two problems, HVV2020 sets a maximum number of room rental houses for each Amsterdam neighborhood (5%) and a maximum for each building (25%). The houses taken into consideration are the ones that accommodate more than 3 students; there are no special provisions for houses of 3 individual tenants or less. Listed below are the seven city districts and the number of houses-for-share permitted in each:

  • Centrum: 1495
  • West: 1649
  • Nieuw-West: 2474
  • Zuid: 2455
  • Oost: 2255
  • Noord: 1532
  • Zuidoost: 1544

The numbers have been derived from mathematical reasoning, and are not based on students’ actual living patterns. In practice, 25% of homes in each building and 5% in each neighborhood can be arranged as room rentals, and each house may accommodate no more than 6 students.

Thus, the total number of houses permitted to be rented to more than 3 people is 13,404. Comparing this to the number of enrollments at the two main universities; the UvA and the VU, there are at least 60,000 students in Amsterdam. 

Students are not the only people looking for housing, particularly rentals. In 2019 alone,  25,000 people, mostly expats, immigrated to Amsterdam. According to some estimates, between 95,000 and 115,000 homes are needed annually.

This is not all: landlords who want to rent to more than 3 people will have to apply for a permit to do so. If they do not do so, the tenants are liable to be sent away. Landlords have until July, 2022 to comply with noise requirements for the houses that they rent to more than 3 individuals. Permits may even be refused at the discretion of the municipality if the living conditions of the neighborhood are already under pressure.

This policy’s treatment of students does not match the treatment of teachers. The policy defines an urgent housing problem for education staff and allocates homes for anyone living more than 20km from Amsterdam with an appointment of at least 20 hours per week, nominated by their employer.

If this is something that you want to have a say in, there is a petition which has the potential to challenge the HVV2020 policy and advocate for the sake of all students and expats looking for a place in Amsterdam. It has already reached 3,800 signatures.