Amsterdam tightens vacancy bylaw

The Municipal Executive of Amsterdam recently announced that the Vacancy bylaw Amsterdam 2016 will be tightened. The draft Vacancy bylaw Amsterdam 2022 is available for public consultation until March 31, 2022.

Pursuant to Article 2 of the Vacant Property Act (Leegstandswet), the City Council may adopt a Vacancy bylaw (Leegstandsverordening). This bylaw may stipulate that vacancy of certain designated categories of buildings shall be reported by the owner to the municipal executive as soon as such vacancy exceeds a period of at least six months. The municipal executive may also maintain a list of its own initiative of buildings found to be vacant.

The Vacant Property Act allows the municipal executive (college van burgemeester en wethouders) to grant a permit for the temporary rental of vacant housing. This is also referred to as a vacancy permit (leegstandsvergunning).

Vacancy bylaw 2016 – the current set of rules

Currently, the Vacancy bylaw 2016 applies within the municipality of Amsterdam. It applies to 1) office buildings located in designated areas, 2) office buildings with a total lettable floor area greater than 5,000 m2 and 3) residential buildings.

If these buildings are vacant for more than six months, the owner is required to report vacancy to the municipal executive. Vacancy occurs when a building is not being used by a tenant or another user.

Within three months of the vacancy report, a vacancy consultation (leegstandsoverleg) between the municipal executive and the owner follows. That consultation takes place with at the background of a balanced weighing of interests, with on one side the public interest of combating vacancy and on the other side the burden that eliminating vacancy entails for the owner.

After the vacancy consultation, the municipal executive may adopt a so-called vacancy decision (leegstandsbeschikking). In such a decision, the municipal executive determines whether the building (or part of it) is suitable for use.

In the event that the vacancy lasts longer than twelve months, the municipal executive may nominate a tenant. The owner is obliged to offer an occupancy agreement to this tenant, unless he still enters into an occupancy agreement with a self-selected tenant within three months. The municipal executive may require the owner to make provisions necessary for use.

Crisis and Recovery Act – experimental tightening of the Vacancy bylaw

Article 2.4 of the Crisis and Recovery Act (Crisis- en herstelwet) provides that at the request of an administrative body and by way of an experiment, it is possible to temporarily deviate from various laws, including, among others, the Vacant Property Act. Such an experiment must contribute to sustainable or innovative developments or the strengthening of the economic structure.

The municipality notes that the process that follows from the current Vacancy bylaw takes too much time. Moreover, the municipality sees itself as playing more of a brokerage role. The owner can wait until a user is proposed who is willing to pay the requested rent.

Against this background, in 2021 the CRa Implementation Decree included an article allowing the municipality of Amsterdam to deviate from the Vacant Property Act until January 1, 2025. This article has been translated into the draft Vacancybylaw 2022

For example, it is made possible to shorten the notification period from six months to three months. And the municipal executive must conduct a vacancy consultation with the owner within two (instead of three) months of receiving the notification.

The municipal executive may also determine what provisions the owner must make, and within what time frame, to make the property fit for use. However, the amenities required of the owner cannot exceed the requirements applicable to existing construction or remodeling in the 2012 Building Code.

And also, the municipal executive may include in a vacancy order a period of at least one month within which the living space shall actually be put to use as living space when it is suitable for habitation. The owner can make a reasoned request to extend this period by at least one month.

An important change is that the draft Empty Premises Ordinance 2022 allows the owner to be required to rent out the vacant building at a market rent to be determined by the college. In determining the maximum market-based rent, the municipal executive will use the maximum reasonable rent based on the housing valuation system for non-liberalized properties. For the maximum market-conforming rental price for deregulated dwellings, the municipal executive will assume the market-conforming rental price for the dwelling in its condition, taking into account the increase in value due to any necessary facilities to be installed to make the dwelling habitable.

Finally, owners of housing intended for sale or for demolition and renovation may be required to rent out the housing and apply for a vacancy permit to do so.

Any questions?

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Amsterdam tightens vacancy bylaw