Netherlands to ban temporary contracts for home rentals

The Netherlands will ban temporary leases, with a few exceptions, and make permanent home rental contracts the norm again. An initiative bill to this effect from PvdA and the coalition party ChristenUnie got majority support in the Tweede Kamer. The initiative was hanging by a threat because of two controversial changes VVD and CDA wanted to implement to increase the number of exceptions. But according to Henk Nijboer (PvdA) and Pieter Grinwis (CU), the changes would defeat the purpose of their initiative.

The political wrangling led to a reopening of the debate. During the discussions, the CDA withdrew support from the VVD amendment, which said that private owners renting out their second home could evict a tenant if they wanted to sell. According to PvdA and ChristenUnie, the risk of abuse is too high.

Nijboer estimated that it concerns 140,000 to 220,000 homes. He thinks many landlords would include such a sales clause in the lease because a home without a tenant is worth at least 30 percent more when sold. VVD MP Peter de Groot denied that all landlords would do that and said it concerns a relatively small group. But Nijboer countered that these tenants would have no protection at all and never dare to complain to their landlord about defects for fear of being evicted.

The new law also allows private landlords to terminate the lease if they want a first-degree relative to move into their property. The rental contract must state this in advance – the court is still assessing this clause. A proposal to this effect from the CDA has been included in the initiative with these safeguards. A more far-reaching and challenged amendment proposal from the CDA to always give landlords that option was withdrawn by CDA MP Inge van Dijk. She also came up with another proposal to let people who are going to live together on a trial basis temporarily rent out one of their homes. Nijboer and Grinwis agreed with that.

The two amendments bothered the initiators so much that they threatened not to proceed with the bill. With their initiative, Nijboer and Grinwis want to reverse the introduction of the flexible rental contract in 2016. According to them, these temporary leases were used far too often, leading to uncertainty and stress among many tenants because they could easily be evicted after two years. Only VVD and Groep Van Haga voted against getting rid of temporary leases.

Reporting by ANP

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