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The Past, Present and Future of the Housing Crisis in Netherlands  

by Violet Dawson
0 comment

The Dutch nationals and the migrants effectively compete for places to live in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands finds itself at the lowest of a Europe-wide housing crisis. The higher costs and cramped conditions impact the situation. Young and old cannot afford a home which led to the increase in asylum requests. Around 2015, a new kind of client began to be seen in the shelter homes. The people seeking shelter were not homeless but they had jobs and in every respect, their lives were together but a home couldn’t be afforded by them. The Dutch nationals and the migrants effectively compete for places to live in the Netherlands. The shortage is acute and the people are desperate.

During the pandemic the house rates in the Netherlands rose the most among all countries in Europe while it has the highest average mortgage debt, according to the International Monetary Funds (IMF). These rates were not corrected or lowered despite leaving the pandemic behind. 

The younger generation was most affected in the Netherlands housing market. The government aims at constructing 900,000 homes by 2030 but the construction is already behind schedule and there are 390,000 more house seekers than there are homes. Hence, about 86% of the population believes that this is a serious issue and a national crisis. 

According to CBS (Central Agency of Statistics), the Netherlands population is growing due to two reasons, one being the longer life span of the people and the second is through migration with a record of more than 220,000 migrants in 2022.   

Last year, the Netherlands had just over 8 million houses according to the CBS. Out of which around 4.5 million houses (57%) were owner occupied, 1 in 7 houses (14%) is a private rental and more than 2 million (29%) are rented out by housing corporations. The most common wait time in the social housing sector for a house is 7 years and can max up to 19 years in the biggest Dutch cities, especially Amsterdam. 

An average Netherlands home costs around €452,000, 10 times more than that of the common Netherlands salary €44,000. Rents have risen in the private sector as well which covers 15% of the country’s total housing stock making them equally dysfunctional. It is a consuming task for the younger generation to find a house which is affordable and maintain it. 

An UN rapporteur on adequate housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal in his assessment of the situation said that the crisis has many structural causes, including lack of the social housing providers, lack of adequate land for new houses, lack of rent caps or their enforcement in the private rental sector, introduction of income limits for eligibility, lack of protection for renter’s rights. It is a problem of affordability and availability, he added. 

Rajagopal also observed the lack of rights-based approach and recognition of the same has led to many prominent protection gaps when it comes to the housing of specific groups. He also said that housing is a human right and not charity from the government. 

To further help the crisis, he recommended 65 ways for improving the situation in the Netherlands housing market. To mention a few, he suggested reestablishing a Ministry of Housing, allowing local governments to impose rent caps and fining the landlords for leaving rental property empty for profits.

Contrary to that, the Netherlands Government was not fully convinced with the suggestions and said that Rajagopal’s assessment was quite general and derived too quickly. 

The UN rapporteur concluded his assessment by stating that the crisis was a result of poor policy choices and a lack of enforceable legal recognition of the right of adequate housing. 

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