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Some Amsterdammers too rich to rent, too poor to buy

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Nearly 10.000 Amsterdam households looking for rent-controlled homes no longer qualify for social housing since new EU rules went into effect at the start of the new year.

In Amsterdam 60.000 families, couples and individuals are actively looking for a new rental home. About 16 per cent of them have an income higher than €33.614 a year — since January 1 the income limit for social housing.

Houses overlooking Amsterdam's Sarphatipark
Houses overlooking Amsterdam's Sarphatipark — definitely at the high end of the ‘free sector’
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The problems are the result of new European Union rules. The EU has stipulated that housing corporations can not allocate rent-controlled houses, which have a maximum rent of €652,52/month, to households with a combined yearly income over €33.614.

The EU can set those restrictions because housing corporations can borrow money cheaply, which is a form of state support.

The EU rules do give corporations some leeway in that they can rent up to 10 percent for newly available houses to people who earn more than €33,614 a year.

However, a spokesperson for housing corporation Ymere told local daily Het Parool that those houses are usually allocated to households forced to move due to city renewal projects, or to households in which someone has a so-called urgency declaration. Such declarations, usually given based on certain physical limitations, entitle a person to priority treatment in the allocation of new social houses.

Update, June 2, 2014: Over the past three years the rent of newly advertised social housing has increased by 22 percent, while the average income of people who qualify for these rent-controlled houses has decreased by 5 percent.

Lack of Inexpensive Houses

Amsterdam’s housing market is subject to strict rental rules because housing is in such short supply. To qualify for rent-controlled houses there are income, employment and residence requirements.

About two-thirds of rental property in Amsterdam is owned by housing corporations. The rest is owned by private landlords.

Private property with a rent higher than €554,76 is considered to be in the ‘free sector,’ which comes with fewer requirements — as well as more leeway for owners to charge higher rents.

In Amsterdam there is a big gap between houses in the social sector, renting for up to €652/months, and houses in the free sector — many of which start at around €900/month.

Buying is not an option for households earning between €33.000 and €45,000 a year. It is virtually impossible to buy a house in Amsterdam with an income of €45,000 a year.

• Rent a room in Amsterdam,

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An Amsterdammer last updated this post on CET (Central European Time)

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