"Investigate suspect property transactions"

This article was originally published op the website of Nieuws uit Amsterdam, on this page.

20 February 2008 - Some renters are confronted with a new landlord up to four times per year. Each time they feel more pressure to move, so as to enable the new owner to sell the house at a substantial profit. A renters' organisation finds the transactions suspect and calls for further investigations.

Yesterday, police evicted a squat at Bikoplein 19. According to the squatters, owner Ronny M. - a "greedy pig" - has bought the house from Nawar H. for euro 650,000. Nawar H. himself would have bought the house for euro 493,000 just three weeks earlier.

One apartment is occupied by an elderly woman who has been living there for forty years and does not want to move. A previous owner would have tried to force her out by removing floors; destroying plumbing and letting the house deteriorate. The squatters would have helped her repair the house.

Tjerk Dalhuisen of the Meldpunt Ongewenst Verhuurgedrag, an organisation that supports renters, knows the situation at Bikoplein. "Four years ago, one of our people made a home visit to the lady who lives there. Now that the squatters have been evicted, she's on her own again".

According to Dalhuisen, house prices explode because new owners hope they will be able to get rid of the renters so as to convert the buildings into expensive apartments. Renters are often unaware of their rights.

Yesterday, the Meldpunt published the findings of an investigation of seven houses in Amsterdam that it had received reports from renters about. It found that these houses frequently change hands among a small group of property owners. One of these owners is the aforementioned Nawar H., who is thought to be connected to Direct Housing, which was recently elected "rack renter of the year" by students' union LSVB and the SP youth wing.

The value of a house at the Pieter Langendijkstraat 31 increased tenfold within ten years, whereas the value of a house at the Lijnbaansgracht 58 increased ninefold within three years. Dalhuisen says he does not know where the money comes from, but does point to a recent study about the interconnectedness of property owners and organised crime.

The Meldpunt refrains from making policy recommendations but suggests suspect transactions should be investigated. According to Dalhuisen, property owners have already protested: "They are afraid tax inspectors will show up at their doorstep".