Discussion on cohabitation ban: ‘It’s a shame, it goes hand in hand with false representations’

A lively discussion in the city council of Groningen about the cohabitation ban. According to councilor Rik van Niejenhuis (PvdA) from Wonen, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

In Groningen, two people can only buy or rent a house if they form a household. This means that two good friends or two close friends who are not in a relationship cannot live in the same house. The rule was introduced in 2020, but due to the corona crisis, the regulation has not been up for debate. Since the introduction of the rule, intervention has taken place in six homes where people do not live together according to the correct rules.

Rik Heiner (VVD): “If you share the bed together, you can live together, otherwise not”
The debate was put on the agenda by the VVD group. “We are talking about the cohabitation ban,” says council member Rik Heiner. “It is forbidden to live together in Groningen. If you share a bed, you can live together, but you must not live in the same house with a friend. We think that is inappropriate. And we ask the municipal council to remove these rules.”

Julian Bushoff (PvdA): “Does the VVD want a continuation of the problems in Schilderswijk?”
The introduction can immediately count on a sharp question from party leader Julian Bushoff from the PvdA: “If you abolish the rules, then it’s the fence of the dam, right? Then you can also live with three or four people. And what happens then? Then a great many houses are converted into student housing, and the nuisance increases. Does the VVD want a continuation of the problems at stake in Schilderswijk?

Heiner: “It is unfair that this link was made”
Heiner: “You’re taking it out of context. If the two of you move into a house in Helpman or in De Wijert, it is completely different from Schildersbuurt. It’s unfair that this link was made.” Bushoff: “But tell me how you’re going to do this legally to make this possible. Which instrument do you want to use?” Heiner: “If two people have to live together in a house, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a nuisance. We believe that the rules should be removed. Two good friends or two good friends should be able to live together.”

Heiner: “You’re not going to forbid two widows to live together?”
Heiner is not alone in the debate. For example, spokesman Laurent Dwarshuis from ChristenUnie suggests that you take a maximum of two people in a home. And the D66 group is also in doubt about the rules. Heiner: “And we’re not just talking about young people, right? People who move together fight loneliness. Or two widows who move in together because it’s more convenient. You shouldn’t ban that, right?”

Elte Hillekens (GroenLinks): “Measure is only used if there is inconvenience”
Elte Hillekens from GroenLinks: “The measure as it exists is only used if there is inconvenience. It’s not like people with binoculars are walking down the street to check if people who live together are actually sleeping in the same bed. That is not the case here at all.”

Mariska Sloot (Stadspartij 100% for Groningen): “We are dealing with a dragon of a rule if it is applied subjectively”
That comment causes 100% bad blood for Groningen with Mariska Sloot from the Stadspartij: “I am very surprised. So there is a rule, but we decide for ourselves whether it is applied? It is impossible? If you run a red light as a motorist, you get a fine, right? We are dealing with a dragon of a rule if it is applied subjectively.”

Jim Lo-A-Njoe (D66): “We agreed to this, but there was something hidden in the paperwork”
Student & City party chairman Steven Bosch describes it as ‘strange politics’: “The rules have gone too far. In the recent period, six people have been put on the street as a result of this rule. Stop discriminating.” Jim Lo-A-Njoe of D66 doesn’t feel comfortable about it either: “These rules have been put in place to discourage pawnbrokers. To a certain extent, we can understand this rule. We also agreed to it, but there was something hidden in the papers. We see no need to introduce this in other districts at all.”

Leendert van der Laan (PvhN): “You really don’t realize this?”
Leendert van der Laan from the Party for the North: “Mr Lo-A-Njoe, have you really not realized this?” Lo-A-Njoe: “We are talking about a rule where the government decides how you should live together. That is not freedom. It is not good.”

Councilor Rik van Niejenhuis (PvdA): “We want to protect tenants and tackle pawnbrokers”
Councilor Rik van Niejenhuis (PvdA) from Wonen is surprised by the discussion: “I see many assumptions in this debate. As a municipal council, you have instructed the municipal council to push the boundaries of what is permitted. With the purpose of protecting tenants and dealing with pawnbrokers. We believe that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. We believe that housing is not possible without a strong government. We must ensure that construction takes place, but in addition to construction, there must also be regulation. Everyone must have a place, and without regulation, not everyone gets a place. Without regulation, people earning below the average would not be able to get a place in the city.”

arms race
The councilor describes it as an arms race between pawnbrokers and tenants. “We want to fight the ‘combination’ of housing. We have focused on this with the help of studies. But what do you see? Malicious parties will split studies. And the numbers can quickly be added up. From one to two residents, with fifty housing units to one hundred. More people mean more nuisance, and people living in worse conditions on smaller surfaces. We have worked on arrangements that prevent one step from being undone by the next.”

“We don’t want to bother people, especially in these times”
Van Niejenhuis calls the way the VVD presents the situation irritating: “It is unaffordable to live these days. Living together can be a bitter necessity to get through these times. Our intention is to protect people, not hinder them . That’s not the case either. And I think it’s really unfortunate that the situation is being portrayed that way. It’s a misrepresentation of Mr. Heiner.”

“If you’re going to give birth, you can run a red light”
“Over the past period, five reports and one enforcement request have been received from people who live together but are not in a relationship. We have to get out of there. No one has been kicked out, no one is illegal. What Mrs. Sloot said. It is not a cohabitation ban, it is housing insurance. You must not run a red light. But if you are pregnant and you are about to give birth, the officer says, please proceed to the hospital. This is how we view the situation’.

“It is a shame that this discussion is accompanied by false representations”
“I don’t know how many people live together in Groningen without being in a relationship. As a municipal council, we are not prepared to remove the rule. The rule adds something. And it is unfortunate that this discussion is accompanied by misrepresentations. It is not constructive. I also think it’s a shame that D66 acts this way. It is not consistent with how we have worked together in recent years.”

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