Recommendations Civil Society Meeting Rotterdam – 15 December 2023
Recommendations As Discussed During the Meeting (concept 17 December 2023)
On adequate housing and the housing stock
- The right to adequate housing must be the absolute focus of policy. Without adequate
housing all other basic human rights cannot be fulfilled.
- Stop regarding homes in Rotterdam owned by private landlords that should be let as social
housing because of the amount of ‘Woningwaarderingssyteempunten’ (Housing Rating
System-points) but which are rented out for much higher intermediate or market rents, as
being ‘social housing’.
- The municipality of Rotterdam does not do enough when it comes to the number of social
housing construction. There is an enormous shortage and the percentages that the
municipality is aiming for are not in proportion to the current population of Rotterdam. Until
2026 for example, the municipality plans to build 20% social housing, 35% in the
intermediate rent segment, which means 45% will be expensive market rent. From 2026 the
segmentation will be 25% social, 40% intermediate and 35% expensive rent. On average,
the higher income groups are better served than the lower income groups.
- Increase the social housing stock in Rotterdam so people who are ready to leave care
institutions can move up to a home of their own, which is currently almost impossible.
- Stop using all types of temporary tenancy agreements for vulnerable people who are ready
for independent housing after being in a care institution; right now, people who need
lifetime tenancies and security the most, are given temporary contracts by care institutions
and housing associations.
On rent regulation
- Regulate rents in the private rental sector and establish a rent cap, so landlords can no longer
increase the rents with every new tenancy agreement.
- Point of concern is the legal inequality in the Netherlands between tenants with regulated
rents and tenants in the private rental sector where there is no maximum rent price and no
legal or objective relation between housing quality and rent price. Also, new legislation
almost always applies to new tenants only or just to tenants in the regulated (social housing)
sector or to tenants of housing associations.
- Add ‘social-economic status’ as a discrimination ground in the ‘Algemene Wet Geljike
Behandeling’ (General Equal Treatment Act).
- Reconsider all housing policies that were based on the Leefbaarometer 2.0, which was the
version with the discriminatory datasets (proportion of migrants in a neighborhood
negatively influenced livability-score). The Leefbaarometer 2.0 was at the heart of the
NPRZ and the Woonvisie. These policies were not reconsidered when the Leefbaarometer
3.0 (in which the discriminatory aspects were removed) was published (March 2022).
- An evaluation of the Rotterdamwet’s discriminatory effects should be made (including the
following question: can we still say there is impartial justification for indirect unequal
treatment?) before the operation of the law is extended.
On urban renewal
- Establish a national and local Social Statute which stipulates tenants having a greater say in
demolition plans for their homes and neighborhood.
- Establish the legal right for residents to be rehoused in the same neighborhood (street, postal
code) or to return to the newly built homes that will replace the demolished ones.
- Establish that residents can make free use of independent and expert resident support in
cases of (plans for) urban renewal.
- In policies to improve neighborhoods: Stop using de ‘Wet bijzondere maatregelen
grootstedelijke problematiek’ / ‘de Rotterdamwet’ (Act on special measures for metropolitan
problems) and the Leefbaarometer because they work out discriminatory for individuals and
stigmatize whole neighborhoods. Instead cooperate with local residents groups and
(citizens) initiatives to work on livability.
On ending homelessness
- Total elimination of homelessness by 2030 must be an imperative demand in national and
local housing policy, not just a target.
- Stop the many impeding rules that are preventing people from having access to homeless
people’s shelter in Rotterdam; there must be a humanitarian minimum limit for the up to
500 people who sleep on the streets of Rotterdam every night. They need permanent shelter
with a bed, bath, bread, and support.
- The national government should take the lead in mapping homelessness (according to the
ETHOS Light method), and assure municipalities live up to the requirements to make the
shift from shelter to housing and guarantee minimal humane shelter for everybody.
- The self-reliance criterium prevents many homeless people from having access to shelter
facilities. We would advise researching whether this criterium can be lifted so everybody
who is homeless and in need of shelter will get access to it, not just people who also need
care as the rules currently are. Please note the European Social Committee already
mentioned it is an Art.31 ESH breach to refuse homeless people who are self-reliant in all
other ways but for the lack of adequate housing, access to shelter.
On (labor) migration
- Stop exploitation of (in particular) East European migrant workers by offering them legal
employment contracts translated into their native language and offering them adequate
housing unrelated to their employment contracts as is already part of the ‘Wet Goed
Verhuurderschap’ (Decent Landlordship Law).
- Capacity to enforce the new ‘Wet Goed Verhuurderschap’ (Decent Landlordship Law) must
be expanded (in Rotterdam/ municipalities) because of the enormous problems and very
distressing situations for labor migrants since most housing and tenancy agreements are
intertwined with employment contracts.
- Actively promote access to information on statutory rights, how to apply for (social)
housing and benefits, for example, in migrant workers’ native languages.
On access to justice
- Establish a local legal aid fund enabling vulnerable people to start legal procedures against
landlords unwilling to charge fair rents, who refuse to do proper maintenance, who
intimidate and discriminate, who threaten to evict complaining tenants.
- A local legal aid fund also gives people access to legal assistance who cannot properly prove
their statutory rights to get provisions such as shelter or social benefits.
On sustainable communities
- Stop selling (municipal) social real estate (like vacant schools and other community
buildings) which has an important role in creating and maintaining social cohesion in
- Cooperate with local residents groups and initiatives to work on livability instead of
imposing plans from above.
- Protect communities and don’t tear them apart with urban renewal or project developments.
- Make cooperative housing possible in Rotterdam; there were several solid initiatives, but the
municipality, housing associations and project developers were not willing to alleviate their
financial requirements, treating cooperative housing initiatives by residents the same as
commercial project developments.
On anti-squat and squatting
- Abolish ‘anti-squat contracts’: the anti-squatting agencies mostly make use of ‘user
agreements’ instead of temporary rental contracts. The user-agreement or anti-squat contract
or similar contract forms leave the residents without any rights, even though they pay rent
(with a monthly fee or with labor, like guarding the building). These contracts should be
forbidden when it comes to housing.
- Start enforcing the ‘vacancy’- part of the ‘Wet Kraken en Leegstand’ (Law on squatting and
vacancy) by imposing fines on landlords who leave their property vacant for profit.
- Cancel the ‘squatting ban’ – part of the Wet Kraken en Leegstand (Law on squatting and
vacancy) so squatting is decriminalized, and anti-squatting agencies cannot make profit of
vacant real estate by charging unfair rents to anti-squat residents or temporary tenants.
- Prohibit municipalities and housing associations from making use of anti-squatting agencies.
If temporary rental is considered, municipalities and housing associations can rent it out
themselves with temporary rental contracts under the ‘Leegstandwet’ (the Vacancy law),
giving temporary tenants at least some tenants-rights, instead of none.
- An additional advantage of canceling the squatting ban, is that squatters often relate to their
neighborhood in a positive sense, where this is often made difficult for anti-squat residents
by the situation of anti-squat housing and sometimes discouragement by the anti-squat
- Stop using the Kostendelersnorm (Cost-sharing Standard), which is the reason people on
welfare cannot take in their children or other people searching for housing without being cut
back on their welfare; this is an extra risk for homelessness.