Idea against housing shortages: put more people in existing homes

Idea against housing shortages: put more people in existing homes

Living space of 65 square meters per person is of course average. There are whole families who live on 50 square meters, but there are also unmarried people who “occupy” a large house. For many people, having plenty of space is a conscious choice. However, all kinds of actions can “seduce” people and thus attract more people to the house. “Homes are often used very little efficiently. Cohabitation has to pay more,” says Frank Wasenberg of Platform 31. “The more people who can move into existing homes, the less you have to build on.”

Benefit and cohabitation

“There are now a number of things that hinder the ability to share living space with more people,” says Eileen Van Buren, professor of urban development management at TU Delft. “Mortgage lenders, for example, make it difficult to rent a floor in your home. The legislature sets certain conditions for receiving a subsidy.”

For example, it often doesn’t pay two people on benefits and own social housing to start living together and give up a house: a single person gets €1075, so two people who live alone get €1535. Rent (including surcharges) but about 350 euros less.

Woonbond and union FNV, among others, believe this rule should disappear. Because then the people who get benefits will start living together more quickly and more homes will be available, according to Platform31. “Why not keep that second home now? As a backup when things don’t go well, like storage, etc.,” Wasenberg said. “You can ask yourself if you as a society want to save those hundreds of euros with less interest, while at the same time you have to build additional homes at a cost of two or three tons.”

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Add waiting time

Thus, there are more ideas to attract more people to the house. You often have to wait years to get a social rental home. To encourage several people to move into a rented home, you could, for example, add waiting time for people to start renting together. Then your turn comes faster with two or three.

The company Zayaz in Den Bosch has been trying something similar since 2019. The company makes houses suitable for parts of housing, for example with a second bathroom. Home seekers can live there with a known or unknown person. “It requires a careful matching process to find people who want to live together in this way,” according to the foundation. There are now six tenants in three homes sharing homes.

You can also give people who have left social housing due to cohabitation the temporary guarantee that they can move to another home if the relationship fails. Then they are also less inclined to keep their home.

The return of the landlady?

It was normal to rent a room in your house, for example to a student. But living with a landlady rarely happens. According to Platform31, in addition to the loss of privacy, a tenant’s fear of strict protections for rents can be an obstacle.

The rule now is that for the first nine months the landlord may terminate the lease. After that, the tenant enjoys rent protection. “There’s a problem with the image,” Wasenberg says. “With the idea: You bring in a nice student who turns out to be a tyrant you can’t get out of your house anymore. But with enthusiastic information and policy, for example with more protection for the owner, this can grow again. More and more seniors living alone and suffering of loneliness. Then you think: One plus one equals two?”

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Holding friends and housing

Platform31 wrote that there are other ways to better fill homes: at friends-Contracts (named after the popular TV series) rent a house with several people and you are jointly responsible for the rent. With Roommates, you rent a room individually in a larger house and have your own rental agreement.

Some municipalities are taking measures to combat these forms of renting: apartments with many young people, for the most part, can together create a nuisance in the neighbourhood. Municipalities also fear that owners are increasingly moving into rooms in order to earn more homes. This leaves fewer homes for families.

“It’s a bit of an easy reaction: More people create more annoyance,” Wassenberg of Platform 31 says. “They are really not all savage students. As a municipality, take specific measures against inconvenience, but do not prevent people from gathering together to live in a house. Most landlords are not slum property owners and only go to get the maximum rent. These are excesses. Then deal with it.”

How much did the house earn?

It is difficult to predict how many homes you will need to build by attracting more people to existing homes. “It pays to try all the procedures, as they can provide relief in the short term,” says Eileen van Buuren of TU Delft. “What’s complicated is that not everyone has the same urgency to alleviate the housing shortage.”

Platform31 estimates that the housing shortage could be reduced by approximately 15,000 homes per year by increasing utilization of existing homes. That shortfall is now around 279,000 homes, so you won’t be able to resolve that quickly either. But it can make the situation less dangerous.

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