These days all and sundry on the Dutch left are decrying Geert Wilders as a potential threat to Justice and Rule of Law. But in Amsterdam, those two fine concepts have been all but abolished. Not by Wilders or his minions, but by the exact same Left that is howling with rage at the injustice of Wilders’ participation in a minority government.
Amsterdam city council, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that owners of a second home in Amsterdam are to be forced to rent out their home: Amsterdam annexes homes (NL).
Having a small second home of a few tens of square meters is not allowed in Amsterdam. City council tracks owners of such so-called pied-à-terres down and orders them to rent out their small apartment in the social sector for a few hundred euros a month.
However, buying a home in the city usually costs more then 200.000 euros. The mortgage burden thus quickly rises of a thousand euros monthly. City council only asks 548 euros rent, the maximum for social housing set by Amsterdam.
Those that refuse to co-operate will be fined several thousand euros. Amsterdam city council has sent summons to some 750 home owners. Amsterdam refers to its Regional Housing Order as a justification.
The letter sent out to home-owners can be viewed here (NL).
Amsterdam has a tradition of being ruled by the PvdA in different, mostly left-leaning coalitions. De Dagelijkse Standaard (NL), also covering this outrage, refer to Amsterdam as ‘Stalingrad on the Amstel’. So, a measure like this, essentially ending private property rights, should not come as a surprise.
Nevertheless it is quite shocking to find out that authorities presume to have the power (if not the right) to decide for owners what they should do with their property. If I buy a house in Amsterdam: What is it I am buying? A neat stack of brick and mortar that I can call my own? Or is it the opinion of Amsterdam city council that the stack is theirs, and I only have bought a license to live in their city? A license that can be revoked or changed as the Amsterdam authorities see fit.
The most important question though is: Will this measure stand? Will one or several owners of such second homes have the balls (and the funds) to sue Amsterdam city council for this violation of property rights? If not, the inevitable conclusion may have to be that private property rights in Holland are dead. This is not responsible policy, this is totalitarian thievery.
If that *is* the case, we are entering very dangerous territory. A government that is able (or presumes it is) to take away your house at a whim, is a government that can not be relied upon, that cannot be trusted to abide by its own rules. And regimes that lose the trust of the people are not conducive to a stable, peaceful and happy society. They usually don’t last that long either, nor are they typically replaced in a peacefully, orderly and bloodless fashion.