Everyone knows that the Delft housing market is under pressure. It is hard for students and first-time house-seekers to find accommodation. And the problems are just getting bigger with every new crop of students. “But the municipal council still believes that people are doing enough for students,” says Gouwerok. He is even more concerned now that the regulations for house division have been further tightened while the shortage of student accommodation is only growing.
In 2017 the municipality took the decision to limit house division. It imposed a ban on dividing up houses valued at over EUR 265,000 by the municipality rates system. Since then, houses valued below this amount need to apply for a conversion permit.
The municipal executive believed that the municipality had too little control over the division of buildings in Delft, and it carried out a mid-term evaluation last July. The findings led them to tighten the regulations. “It means that no exceptions are made for community housing and permit applications can only be submitted by name,” explains Gouwerok.
And when selling a divided house, a conversion permit again needs to be applied for. If this is not granted, the tenants are in limbo. “They are not turned out immediately as lessors are required to find other accommodation for them, but no-one really knows how this works in practice.”
‘Start a conversation and deal with any irritations’
Instead of stricter regulations, Gouwerok pleas for students to simply be seen as ordinary adults. “They are people aged over 18 who are looking for accommodation. And yes, maybe their daily routines are different, but if these cause any nuisance, don’t exclude the whole group but start a conversation and address the nuisance.”
As there are no figures that underpin the lack of control on house division, STIP questions why the regulations were changed. “Up to July 2019, only 10 permits have been requested and only four were granted. This means that house division was practically stopped under the old regulations.”
Gouwerok also believes that there are enough alternatives to the conversion permit that would enhance neighbourhoods. The municipality could encourage good rental practice, for example. This would mean more guidance for the lessor and better communication between lessor, tenants and neighbourhoods.”
To this end, STIP will submit a motion in the next council meeting to assess whether a rental team in Delft could be the right instrument to support tenants of private housing. “A rental team is an approachable contact point for tenants and can give them legal advice about their tenancy rights.”
STIP hopes that the resolution will be reversed. Gouwerok reiterates that “It is about a temporary rule that will be evaluated definitively at the beginning of next year.”