In a housing cooperative the residents of an apartment block jointly own the building as a cooperative and pay rent to their own organisation, which is democratically controlled by all residents/members. This is apparently an increasingly popular construct to organise affordable middle class housing in expensive cities. In The Netherlands those were apparently quite common starting in the 19th century, but prohibited after World War II until 2015 (source in Dutch only, my apologies); instead, most tenants traditionally rent from housing corporations/building associations (Dutch: woningbouwvereniging). What is the rationale for banning housing cooperatives?

  • What was the rational (given that they are now legal). I'd guess it was that these tended to be a breeding ground for radical politics.... but finding out the motivations of the Dutch government in the 1940s isn't going to be easy...
    – James K
    Sep 26, 2020 at 14:34
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    @JamesK I was considering whether to ask here or on History, settled for here because whatever rationale they had might still apply today.
    – gerrit
    Sep 26, 2020 at 17:04
  • As a German trying to wrap my head around the difference between the housing associations and the cooperatives (possibly because something called Wohnungsbauverein/-vereinigung typically is a Genossenschaft = cooperative): who is associated in a Dutch housing association? Sep 27, 2020 at 16:04
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    @cbeleitesunhappywithSX I find it hard to translate the difference to English or German, but by housing cooperative (wooncoöperatie) I mean what I think is in Germany a Wohnungsbaugenossenschaft, whereas Dutch woningbouwvereniging literally means Wohnungsbauverein or building association, but are today large professional not-for-profit landlords that I think rarely have actual members anymore... it's all very complicated and I don't understand it myself. I think they have a special status in the law that is distinct from corporation, cooperative, foundation, or association.
    – gerrit
    Sep 27, 2020 at 19:05
  • There is quite a lot of historical information here: canonsociaalwerk.eu/nl_vhv/details.php?cps=20&canon_id=489
    – sba222
    Jan 14, 2021 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


In the past, cooperatives in the field of housing were common in the Netherlands, but after the Second World War they were banned. During the reconstruction, a lot of government subsidies went to public housing. The legislator feared that the members of housing cooperatives would cash in on the accumulated capital, for example by selling their houses built with subsidies. Instead of the cooperative, only housing associations and foundations were allowed to be active in public housing.

And now that it is possible there are still no guarantees because there are a lot of rules and regulations to abide by to block the abuse of subsidies that are given.

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    Interesting and plausible, would you have sources that confirm this?
    – gerrit
    Sep 26, 2020 at 17:03
  • @gerrit I had this discussion with a friend on FB a few years ago shortly before it got changed. We used links but none of them seem to be working anymore. All now just redirect to homepages that are only stuffed with information about Covid.
    – A.bakker
    Sep 26, 2020 at 17:24

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