Over 300 prime Amsterdam apartments owned by US company have been sitting vacant — despite the housing crisis

US investment company, Blackstone, has admitted that 328 of its apartments have sat empty for years.

Why is that a big deal? Perhaps because there’s an acute housing crisis that leaves thousands desperate for a roof. 🙃

Following a series of critical questions from the party chairman of the Dutch Socialist Party (SP), the issue is being taken up with the Amsterdam city council today, reports AT5.

Squatters spilled the beans on Blackstone

In June, the police evicted a group of squatters from a building on Sint Willibrordusstraat in the bohemian neighbourhood De Pijp. Seemingly, it was this action that drove Blackstone to file vacancy notifications to the municipality — in bulk.

According to the squatters evicted from Sint Willibrordusstraat, the place had “been rotting away empty for years.”

This triggered the party leader of the SP, Erik Flentge, to start investigating Blackstone.

“328 vacant properties reported in one go. How can that happen? Why so many, are they all being refurbished? And it is still unclear how many more buildings are empty. Mind you, thousands of people are looking for a home. (3)”

Amsterdam city council reacts

The Alderman for Housing, Rutger Groot Wassink, expressed the city council’s disapproval of leaving homes vacant for a long time. According to him, the council is fighting long-term vacancies “with all possible means” as “it is a duty to use houses for what they are intended, namely habitation.”

However, Wassink also explains the difficulty of tracing Blackstone’s total homeownership in Amsterdam. The investment company’s property portfolio is placed with various subsidiaries, making it very time consuming to figure out which homes belong to which Dutch branch.

Are there any consequences for Blackstone?

Asides from an inspection of the property on Sint Willibrordusstraat to get it ready for habitation as soon as possible, the municipality will have a meeting with Rembrandt Propco about the manner in which vacancies should be reported.

Meaning, they’ll have a little talk about how it’s not okay to report 328 addresses in one go. 🙅‍♀️

However, the Vacancy Act doesn’t provide any options for reprimanding Blackstone or Rembrandt Propco for leaving the properties vacant, only if they don’t report it — so all they get is a rap on the knuckles from the municipality.

Do you think the city council should do more to fight vacancies? And what are your opinions of Blackstone? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: dianliguori/Depositphotos

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

7 COMMENTS

  1. It’s PRIVATE PROPERTY; as long as the owner doesn’t neglect the property to the degree that it is an imminent threat to public safety (and not just a mere hazard that can be contained) the city has no right dictating that the owner must rent, lease or sell the property. People looking for housing can move to another city, or, if not citizens, another country.

  2. In North America property taxes are much higher, so landlords are far less likely to leave apartments vacant. I’m not sure this is a great solution as they would pass along increases to the tenants, maybe give a tax credit to the tenant?

  3. Should focus on increasing affordable housing instead of only fighting vacancies. Blackstone is just an investment company, investing in properties according to the law and shouldn’t be penalized for keeping their investment property vacant. Again Blackstone is misspelled as Blackwater twice at the end of this article.

  4. Use it or lose it. Blackstone should either rent out its properties or sell them. Sitting on empty properties creates scarcity, which drives prices up. Great for the owners, not so great for people looking to buy or rent. Is Blackstone properly maintaining the properties? If left unattended for long periods, basic maintenance isn’t done, vermin move in, water corrodes in the pipes, needed repairs aren’t done. At the very least, the squatters should be able to occupy the premises and use this wasted space.

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