1,848 social tenants at the housing company Woonhaven risk a fine of up to 5,000 euros because they are not registered with the VDAB. This has been an obligation since January 1, 2023. “It is important that every social tenant who can work, also goes to work,” says Els van Doesburg (N-VA), Antwerp Alderman for Housing and Woonhaven chairman.
Since January 1, 2023, all social tenants who do not work but are able to do so must be registered with the VDAB. This concerns the main tenant and, if applicable, his or her live-in partner.
Anyone who is not working, is younger than 65 years old and has no other disability must be registered. Anyone who receives a living wage is guided in this by the OCMW. People with a recognized disability are not subject to the obligation. The housing company Woonhaven has now checked whether social tenants meet this obligation.
In Antwerp there were initially 3,769 social tenants who were not registered with the VDAB. After a second check, 1,848 social tenants still appear not to be so.
“In Antwerp we have been emphasizing a strict but fair social housing policy for some time,” says Van Doesburg. “You can only be gentle with those who need it if you are tough with those who abuse you. Those who can work but consciously do not look for work fall into the latter category. We have now transferred the 1,848 files of tenants who are still not registered with the VDAB to the Housing Supervisor in Flanders for further follow-up. It is important that every social tenant who can work, goes to work.”
Moreover, according to the aldermen, this is also important in eliminating the waiting list for social housing. People who work can move on to the private housing market or social housing. “After all, there is no better safety net to stand on your own two feet economically through work and thus grow into the regular housing market,” says the alderman. “This will free up social housing for people who really need it.”
The Housing Supervisor in Flanders declares social tenants in default who still do not comply with the tenant obligation after an inspection via the Crossroads Bank for Social Security. The social tenant is given two months to register with the VDAB. If he or she is still not in order, a fine of up to 5,000 euros will be imposed. Flemish regulations do not allow the tenant to be evicted from his or her home.
The social housing company Woonhaven has 24,000 social rental homes and 43,000 tenants.