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Rabobank plans to invest 5b euros in Dutch rental homes

Amsterdam

RABOBANK Group said it wants to help fix the severe shortage in rental homes for middle-income households in the Netherlands.

The second-largest Dutch lender will set up a five billion euro (S$7.59 billion) fund this year that aims to add 15,000 rental homes to the local market over the next decade, it said in a statement on Saturday. With rents ranging from 650 euros to 1,250 euros a month, Rabobank aims to fill the "huge gap" between social housing and expensive rental homes.

Large cities in the Netherlands are grappling with steep increases in house prices and a lack of availability. Policy makers have laid out ambitious targets for building more homes, but property developers face multiple obstacles, including a shortage of workers, rising construction costs and regulation.

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The housing issue has been high on the agenda for years and is becoming "more urgent" every day, said Wiebe Draijer, chief executive officer at Rabobank. "The Netherlands has around three million so-called middle-income households that do not have access to affordable housing if they were to look for a home now."

Rabobank's fund - BPD Woningfonds - will be set up this year and will cooperate with property developer Bouwfonds Property Development, a subsidiary fully owned by the Utrecht-based bank. The first 1,000 homes will be built next year. BLOOMBERG