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.
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