Dutch VvE  - Vereniging van Eigenaars or Association of Owners

Every apartment owner in the Netherlands is by virtue of the law a member of the VvE, the Dutch Association of Owners. Some Dutch lawyers have specialized in this aspect of Dutch law (the Dutch laws concerning house associations).
The buyer of a flat in the Netherlands is an automatic member of the VvE.
A Dutch VvE can represent the joint owners within or outside of court and supervises the fulfilment of obligations flowing from the relationship between the apartment owners.
The VvE manages the common parts of the building. The VvE is a legal person, this means that the VvE is able to take decisions and can act independently toward the public and enter into agreements. Since 1 January 2010, every VvE must be registered at the KvK (Kamer van Koophandel or Chamber of Commerce).

The deed of division

The deed of division outlines the rights and obligations as they apply to the individual apartment owners in a Dutch building. The deed of division also states how the VvE convenes and how many votes are necessary to approve a decision. Usually the VvE applies a model regulation (Modelreglement) of the Dutch notaries for this purpose from 1953, 1973, 1983, 1992 or 2006, depending on the year in which the apartment rights were divided. In practice, it is common for provisions to be added to the original model regulation. In the regulations of the division of the building, provisions regarding the use, management and maintenance of common parts and the debts and costs that are borne by the joint owners are included.

Amendment of the deed of division

Amendments to the deed of division by the VvE can only take place with the cooperation of all owners. If one or more owners do not wish to cooperate in an intended amendment of the deed of division, their cooperation can be replaced by a judicial authorization in the manner and under the conditions as set in article 5:140 of the Dutch Civil Code. That’s were often a Dutch VvE-lawyer comes in the picture. It is also possible for the deed to be amended by the board, provided that this is done pursuant to a decision of a meeting that has been taken by a majority of at least four-fifths of the total number of votes that can be cast by the owners. The summon of the meeting referred to in the second paragraph must state that an amendment to the deed will be proposed in that meeting, while the text and/or the drawing up of the proposed amendment must be attached to the summoning.

Annulment of a VvE decision through the Dutch Courts

An apartment owner who has not voted in favour of a decision to amend the deed can, in accordance with Article 5:140b of the Dutch Civil Code, order the annulment of the decision of the VvE in court. The rights to request annulment will lapse after three months, the period of which starts the day after the decision was taken at the meeting. This is a special arrangement specific to the amendment of the deed of division alone. This does not apply to other decisions of the VvE. For other decision of the VvE to time to file a complaint with the Dutch Court is 30 days from the date of the decision.

Permission to amend deed of division by a mortgage holder

An amendment to the deed of division requires consent of those who have a limited right to an apartment right (a mortgage holder), those who have seized (unless it only concerns an amendment to the regulation), and from the landowner if a right of leasehold is involved in the division. Permission is also required from the titleholders to an easement if their right is affected by the amendment.

Amendment by VvE during procedure?

An amendment to the deed of division can only be made through a notarial deed drawn up for that purpose. If the amendment is based on a decision of a meeting within the meaning of the second paragraph, the notarial deed cannot be passed before it is established that this decision cannot be annulled by the court. This ensures that the VvE cannot force an amendment if one or more members of the VvE have instituted proceedings against the amendment of the deed.

Dutch VvE protects use and zoning of apartments

As owner of an apartment in the Netherlands, many arrangements flow from the deed of division. Article 5:111 of the Civil Code determines the elements of an apartment right “the deed of division must contain: an accurate description of the respective parts of the building or the land which are destined to be used as a separate unit which description may consist of a reference to the plan referred to in article 109 paragraph 2, mentioning each of such parts to which the apartment rights entitles the use”. The topics regulated in article 5:111 of the Dutch Civil Code will always need to be included in the division regulation or the deed of division, or in the further content of the deed of division. Furthermore, the provisions in the rules of procedure cannot undermine the legal force of the regulation of division.

Division of building into apartment rights and divided permits

Even if a building is divided, the zoning stated in the zoning plan remains relevant. Law requires, in a number of city districts, a permit to allow the division of certain residential buildings (article 3 Housing Decree). The basic principle of the Housing Act is that in certain cases for a division within the meaning of Section 5:106 of the Dutch Civil Code, a permit is required from the executive board of the municipality. Please consult out VvE lawyer if you wish to sort this out.

Use apartment in violation of zoning regulations in the Netherlands

Naturally, the zoning plan (Bestemmingsplan) must be inspected. It is not sensible to divide a building into apartment rights that gives rise to business premises if the zoning plan only permits housing. The opposite also applies: even if someone has a license to operate a sex club in a private area, it is not allowed if the zoning deems it office space (see Court Assen 24 september 2003, NJF 2004, 72). “The zoning of the private sections will be apparent from regulations; of course, it will have to be in accordance with the public-law zoning at the time of the division.” Other apartment owners can request for law enforcement in case another flat owner is infringing the Dutch zoning law.

Change of use of apartment and objection VvE

There is plenty work to be done for a lawyer specialised in issues related to the VvE if a change of use of the apartment is not accepted by the VvE. The opposite applies as well: even if in possession of a municipal permit for the operation of a sex club in a private area, it is nonetheless prohibited by virtue of it being zoned as office space (see Court Assen 24 September 2003 NJF 2004, 72). A change to the zoning of a shop to a café was dismissed on the basis that it was contrary to the regulation of division (Court ‘s -Gravenhage 213 oktober 1982, NJ 1985, 542).

Important distinction between division regulation and house rules

The house rules of a VvE must not be confused with the division regulation. Provisions from the house rules cannot limit or undermine the division regulation. Very often the house rules are established by the board of the VvE and are not laid down in a notarial deed. It is not easy to amend a division regulation since you need a four fifths majority of all votes (article 5:139 BW). The amendment must be recorded in a notarial deed that is registered by the notary in the Land Registry (Kadaster).

Advice of a Dutch real estate lawyer

A lawyer specialized in VvE matters can advise on the legal position of an apartment owner in the Netherlands. If the meeting of the VvE takes a decision that the owner of the apartment does not agree with, the decision of the VvE can be reviewed by a judge. Be aware of the short period of 30 days to file a request for review with the Dutch Court. A lawyer can also submit a decision to the court that a minority of the apartment owners do not agree. We also encounter illegal renting of apartments to tourists. Our lawyers are experienced in the housing matters and deal with VvE-disputes frequently. A decision by the VvE may be void or voidable, please feel free to ask our lawyer specialised in VvE matters for advice.

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