In March 2024 the local authorities in Amsterdam will introduce new regulations to limit home exchange. There is quite a lot of confusion, especially among the English speaking Amsterdam population. We dove into the official and unofficial (Dutch language) sources. In this article I provide an overview of the details that are now clear.

We strongly disagree with the new rules, and we’ll explain why. If you agree with us, you could sign one of the petitions that were started to help reverse this legislation.

What legislation is introduced?

Amsterdam locals who want to use a home swapping platform such as Urban Crabs, will have to register with the municipality, pay a (yearly) fee, report every single home exchange they want to do and (possibly) ask guests to pay a tourist tax. Amsterdam residents are allowed to make their home available for home exchange (and/or short term rental) for a maximum of 30 days and for a maximum of 4 guests.

Starting 2023, 2024 or 2025?

Originally, the new legislation was supposed to be implemented immediately starting 1 October 2023. After lots of criticism, and a successful petition by Niki Rap (see below) this was postponed until 1 March 2024.

The city of Amsterdam has said they will not be enforcing these rules until the 1st of January 2025.

How to register & report a home exchange?

Amsterdam locals who want to swap their home need to register their home via this (local) website or this (national – only Dutch) website and pay a pay a license fee of €48,10 for a year. After a year, residents need to re-apply for a new license. According to our experience, this seems to be an automatic process. Anybody who is officially registered on the address they request a license for (this is checked via DigiD) will get the license within a few minutes via email.

After receiving the license a home owner / renter who wants to swap their house can log in and report a home exchange. Every home exchange needs to be reported via this website (form in Dutch).

Do guests need to pay tourist tax?

Businesses and individuals who rent out a home or room to tourists (short term rental) need to pay a tourist tax (“toeristenbelasting”) to the Amsterdam municipality. Hotels and websites like Airbnb collect collect this tourist tax (the highest in Europe).

According to the proposed legislation, hosts of home exchange websites would also need to collect tourist tax for guests staying in their homes. As no money is exchanged between host and guest and as some home (office) swapping networks like Urban Crabs are often used for long-term swaps that have nothing to do with tourism, there has been a storm of criticism.

The biggest holiday home swapping website in the world is in talks with the government of Amsterdam about this. We’ll update this article as soon as we hear more.

What’s the penalty if I don’t register / report?

The fines imposed if you don’t follow the registration and reporting rules will be the same for short term rentals and home exchange. You can find a list of fines (in Dutch) here.

If more than 4 people stay in your home during a swap, you can get a fine of €11.600 (plus €2.900 per violation). If you don’t register or report guests coming to your Amsterdam home or reported the wrong dates, the fine will be €8.700 (plus €2.900 per violation). There is also a fine of € 21.750 for hosts “renting out their home when they don’t live there”. We assume this is not applicable to home exchange, but this has not yet been confirmed by the municipality of Amsterdam.

We disagree. Home exchange ≠ short term rental

With the explosion of Airbnb and the problems that cities experienced because of this, the city of Amsterdam has introduced regulations. Now home exchange / home swapping is explicitly included in this legislation too.

We think this is wrong.

Home exchange is non-commercial, contrary to short term rentals. Most Airbnbs are managed by commercial companies (in 2020). Home exchange is done by real people who live in they apartment they swap. No money changes hands when swapping homes.

Home swappers are not tourists. They’re more like friends staying at a local’s home. As they don’t spend money on accommodation and stay longer, they can spend more in the local economy. Home exchange networks often encourage hosts and guests to get to know each other. They often end up as friends.

We believe that government should not interfere with our personal freedom to have friends stay in our homes for free. What will the next step be? Family members from abroad will no longer be able to stay in our homes, as they’re considered “tourists”?

Lastly, many of the people who engage in home exchange do this for economical reasons. For them it’s often the only affordable way of going on holidays abroad. At Urban Crabs we specifically aim to make it economically possible for people from less “obvious” destinations outside of Western Europe to live in a different culture for a while.

Various petitions you can sign

Our colleagues from People Like Us Home Exchange have started a very well-written petition that asks local governments all over the world to stop including home exchange in short-term rental legislation.

This petition (in Dutch) asks the local municipality in Amsterdam to do the same. It was started by Amsterdam local Niki Rap.

We encourage you to sign both.