February 16, 2011

Banks make 125,000 homes unsellable

Filed under: Architecture,General by Orangemaster @ 1:48 pm

Dutch television news show EenVandaag gave me a new reason to be scared to ever buy a house in the Netherlands. Since 10 February 2010 Dutch banks have decided not to approve any mortgages to people buying a house built on ground owned by a private person. This means that some 125,000 home owners are now stuck in their homes forever, unless they leave it empty and move, or rent it.

Homes in the Netherlands are often built on ground that is leased from someone else, usually a local government or a housing corporation, a very common practice in big cities like Amsterdam. In fact, real estate agents in Amsterdam, where most homes are built on leased ground albeit owned by the city, are now refusing to sell any houses built on ground owned by private persons.

Why would banks pull this? Acccording to De Telegraaf, the regulatory body of Dutch banks has a duty to assess the risk of the loan, and find it too difficult when the ground is privately owned. The legislation on ground leasing is said to be “complete chaos” and deals with “forced contracts” (I like the Dutch ‘wurgcontract’, which literally means ‘strangulatory contract’). These private ground owners are basically mimicking the government who also ask for “mafia-like amounts” when ground leasing. Fighting the government for unfair practices is one thing, but you can’t do that with a private person who can apparently do what they want.

(Links: ad, telegraaf)

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December 11, 2010

Filming civil servants may cost you your welfare cheque

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 6:28 pm

The Hague residents who wish to go all Wikileaks on civil servants by filming their interrogators, risk losing their welfare benefits, Sargasso reports.

Blogger Dimitri Tokmetzis discovered this when he received the results of a freedom of information request about the so-called Haagse Pand Brigade, a unit of municipal civil servants that invades the homes of those vaguely suspected of such wrongdoings as welfare fraud, growing marijuana or illegal sub-letting.

A manual for the Brigade dictates:

Sometimes welfare recipients wish to make an audio or video recording of the visit. This recording could be against the will of team members, and could lead to publication that is against their will. This can have far-reaching personal consequences for the team members. This is not tolerable, and therefore we prescribe the following:

1) If a customer indicates that he wishes to record the visit, or if he is already in the process of recording the visit, the team members will indicate clearly that they do not give permission for the recording, and will stop the visit.

2) The team members will explain to the customer that their behaviour will be interpreted as refusing to cooperate in determining the right to welfare benefits (article 17 WWB), and that this can have consequences for their right to welfare. When the customer publishes his recordings, he will be reported to the police.

For the record, in the Netherlands you do generally not need permission to film someone, and so-called portrait rights (the limited right to object to publication of your portrait) are part of civil law, not of criminal law.

Tokmetzis adds that since the Brigade members are doing their work in public, they should expect and accept public scrutiny.

(Photo by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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