Flash interview Woonbond | Robbert Vullings, tenancy rights activist

On average, tenants saw their rent increase by 26% over the past ten years. Once again this year, tenants with social housing will receive a significant rent increase as of July 1. Time for a rent freeze, says Robbert Vullings from Apeldoorn. This spring he is again committed to the action group We Refuse the Rent Increase (WWDH).

No to the rent increase

Why are you active in tenant work?
'When my studio was acquired by an institutional investor, customer service immediately ceased to exist; a Facebook group for tenants was deleted; and emails were no longer responded to. Two months later we received a letter with a proposed rent increase. How incredibly strange that this is possible, I thought. All service is lost and they ask for the maximum rent increase. People get a rent increase without anything in return. They are faced with homes that have maintenance deficiencies, while they often already pay exorbitant rents and hear nothing from the landlord. We have a housing crisis, but I see it as an affordable housing crisis. The rents can no longer be afforded. It's allowing profits to be made on something so fundamental
when housing destroys everything. I want to eliminate this injustice from the world.'

What is the benefit of participating in We Refuse the Rent Increase?

'The rent increase is a proposal from your landlord. You can agree uncritically. But if you don't want to, know that this is an option. You are not doing anything legally wrong and morally right. You exercise your rights as a tenant. If you refuse the increase by transferring the old rent amount without the increase, your landlord must send a registered letter in time. That's all you need to do. If this does not happen, you have successfully refused the rent increase. It's a bit of luck. We know tenants who have been refusing rent increases for years and have already saved a lot of money. Landlords often outsource their administration and have insufficient insight into it.'

What is your message to other tenants?

'Refusal is sometimes exciting. We know tenants who receive threatening letters about alleged rent arrears, even though there is no legal basis for this. So, above all, pull together “The rents can no longer be afforded. Profit on housing destroys everything.” By participating as a tenants' organization, you can make a difference together. It is a powerful way to say: “We don't participate in that.” If not this year we get a rent freeze, then maybe next year.

Participating in WWDH is not the only thing you can do to reduce your rent. Know your rights. Some may also object to the rent increase. Others can use the housing valuation system (WWS) to reduce their initial rent, or go to the Rent Assessment Committee with maintenance defects. Service costs very high and unclear? Go, to the municipal hotline against bad landlordism in your place of residence. There is an affordability crisis. We must save on unreasonably high rents first.'

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