Organization / Legal structure
If we manage to collect sufficient financial contributions and/or take out a good mortgage to buy a property, we will design it in the following way.
The Amsterdam Alternative Association becomes the owner of the property – collective ownership.
The users of the building are subsumed and united in an association with its own responsibilities.
The members of this new association are automatically members of the Amsterdam Alternative association.
The foundation "Vrij Beton" is established to manage the building(s). This foundation has a predetermined set of management tasks. The foundation has no substantive say in AA or the association of the AA building.
The purpose of this construction is to stimulate a practice that follows our principles and core values such as self-management, responsibility and collectivity. It also serves the crucial purpose of making it impossible to sell the property for the sake of individual profit.
1) Amsterdam Alternative Association
• The big collective owns the building(s)
2) AA Property Association
• For every building bought bij AA a new association of users will be set up
• Every building will get its own name
• Every building (all tenents) pays rent to AA
• They will take care of dailt management
3) Foundation Vrij Beton
• Takes care of rental contracts
• maintains the building(s)
• Has no voice in content of AA or property association
Selection and flow
1. If the opportunity arises to buy a property, the large collective will determine by means of a vote which property or place will be purchased. The board and working groups will do the preliminary work and present a number of options. Preferably at least three but it the exceptional possibility of, for example, only one option could also arise. In this case the members can vote in favour or against.
2. The location, size and zoning plan will help determine the possibilities for mixing functions. If there is the possibility for a combination of living, working, education and public functions, we will focus on that. The balance of mixed functions will differ among projects.
3. If AA buys a property, the question will arise: who can live and / or work there? A very important and complicated question. A selection procedure will start once an open call has been published for an appropriate amount of time in our newspaper, website, social media and other external channels. We do not work with waiting lists.
4. Anyone may register to become a user of an AA property through our website. However, such registration won’t ever be a guarantee for someone’s placement.
5. To understand the demand (who needs a space for what purpose) we have placed a registration form on our website. This form can always be filled in, regardless of existing vacancies (or lack thereof). We want to build a database of interested people and groups. This knowledge can help us to take decisions on potential acquisitions and their specific make up.
6. The board and the selection group will ultimately make a pre-selection from all applications (based on content and assessment against our vision, principles and core values). The pre-selection will then be submitted to all members of the large collective (AA Asociation), who ultimately determine the tenants of each space in the AA building. We won’t use a CAWA test or income test for new tenants.
7. To ensure that an AA building remains healthy, active and relevant, there will be an annual evaluation with the AA board. If it turns out that members don’t participate, don’t pay rent, sublet or otherwise violate the rules, this can lead to the termination of the contract. Should it come to that, the association running the building has a crucial say in this decision. The AA board and AA general assembly act as an external guardians of the objectives and will intervene if things go wrong or threaten to go wrong.
8. To prevent a building from becoming inactive or unexciting, it is important to ensure a good flow. We will do this by means of evaluations. Each user of a new building receives a contract for five (5) years with probation period during the first year. There will be an evaluation after the first year. This involves looking rent payments and the degree of involvement in the collective. If approved, the contract will be continued. In case of a negative evaluation, the contract will be terminated. At the end of the contract, there will also be an evaluation potentially leading to a new contract of five (5) years.
Basic rules for an AA "Free Concrete" building
Amsterdam Alternative does not want to paralyze the power of an AA building by a multitude of rules and regulations. Our goal is to transfer the building into the self-management of the users. They co-own our collective property construction and bear the responsibilities associated with that. However, it is impossible to work entirely without rules, which is why, in addition to our AA core values and principles (which also apply to the buildings), a number of basic rules have been drawn up that apply to all AA buildings.
1. It is compulsory for each AA building to be represented within Amsterdam Alternative as a working group.
2. A representative or small committee of an AA property regularly meets with the AA board to discuss the course of events. At least three (3) times a year.
3. There is always a representative of an AA property present at AA General Members Meetings.
4. Each AA building is obliged to meet at least six (6) times a year (ALV) with an external moderator and secretary. In this meeting, daily and urgent matters and action points will be dealt with and discussed. Minutes are taken of these meetings by an external secretary and uploaded to the AA website (member portal), so that they can be viewed by members of AA (transparency).
5. Amsterdam Alternative Association is not a police or enforcement agency. We are for experimentation and freedom of thought and action. However, there are limits in the form of laws, regulations, permits and so on that we have to comply with.
6. Amsterdam Alternative is not interested in buildings where people only live and / or work. There must be a collective space in every AA building that is used for public programming (music, film, dance, lectures, kitchen, education, etc.) but is also available for internal meetings and meetings of the Amsterdam Alternative Association. This collective space is run by (a part of) the collective users of the building itself. There will be no external operator.
7. Being open to the public is essential (music, film, dance, art, workshops, education, lectures, etc.). It provides a connection with the neighborhood as well as the general urban population. Interaction with the outside world ensures that the project is a real part of the city. The collective space must therefore be open to the public as often as possible.
8. Each property pays a small monthly amount to Amsterdam Alternative. This money could for instance be used to pay towards the cost of new acquisitions. The amount payable will be included in the budget to be drawn up.
9. The association of each AA building determines its organizational structure. All members are expected to participate. The organization is horizontal. There is no boss. The group is in charge.
10. Amsterdam Alternative makes every effort to keep the rent and financial charges for tenants of spaces in an AA building as low as possible.
Basic rules for tenants (individuals/groups) of an AA building
In addition to our AA core values and principles (which also apply to all tenants), a number of basic rules have been drawn up for all tenants / members of an AA building.
1. Every tenant in an AA building pays rent to the Amsterdam Alternative Association. With this rent, the mortgage is repaid (+ interest). The rent also contributes toward all other costs specified in the property’s long-term budget (energy advance, internet, maintenance, insurance, service contracts, permits, ground lease, reservation major maintenance, etc.). The rent of a space is calculated on the basis of square meters and the multi-year budget.
2. A tenant cannot have rent arrears of more than two (2) without stating significant reasons. Rent arrears of more than three (3) months can be a reason for contract termination.
3. We want active, engaged members. A collective cannot work without the energy and input of its members. Lack of participation, cooperation, attendance of meetings can be reasons for contract termination. Problematic cases are first discussed internally (in the building) and then presented to the board of Amsterdam Alternative.
4. Subletting a rented space is possible only for a certain period of time (max. 3 months per year) and with good reason. Subletting must be reported to the board of the relevant building and the 'selection' working group of Amsterdam Alternative. An exception can be made for internships, residencies, or exchanges abroad - in consultation with AA's 'selection' working group. Short-term rental to tourists, strangers (airbnb-type practices), are prohibited. In case of subletting, no more rent may be asked than the official amount pad to AA. Failure to comply with this rule may be a reason for contract termination.
5. An obvious rule, but an important one: sexual (or other) harassment, drug / weapon dealing, aggression, racism, theft, criminal activity or other unacceptable behavior will not be tolerated and may be grounds for contract termination. Problem cases are first discussed internally (in the building) and then presented to the board of AA. If necessary, cases are reported to the police.
6. Every tenant (individual or group) in an AA building must be a member of the AA association. This means paying membership fees but also voting rights and involvement in the larger collective.
7. Tenants provide a deposit of two (2) monthly rent payments at the start of the contract. The deposit will be returned once the lease has ended and the space has been returned in good condition (without damage) and without outstanding rent debt.
8. If a tenant terminates his / her lease, or it is canceled by the Association, the tenant has no rights to request takeover costs or other financial compensation for his / her space. The space is and will always be property of the association. The association also selects the new tenant.
Basic rules for public spaces in an AA building
In addition to our AA core values and principles (which apply to all public spaces), a number of basic rules have been drawn up for all public spaces in an AA building:
1. 50% of any profits will go to AA (for the newspaper, campaigns, solidarity fund, new buildings, etc.).
2. All public spaces are owned and managed by the building’s association. External foundations (or other legal forms) or organizations (with a profit motive) may never be the manager, tenant or operator of the public space. The public spaces are the heart of the building.
3. Art and culture are important, but not necessarily the main purpose of the project. Space for other social, civic, activist activities, such as neighborhood functions, education, activities for children/the elderly and multicultural programming, is also important.
4. AA properties cannot be not places for the commercial mainstream. There is nothing wrong with attracting big audiences or being popular, but we don't programme with the idea in mind that something should generate a lot of money. We are not a profit-driven organization. Instead, experiment, avant-garde, adventure and fun are the reason for AA’s existence.
5. The collective that lives and/or works in a specific AA building (tenants) is ultimately responsible for the programming. Working with external programmers and partners is not a problem at all, but external parties cannot take over the entire programming or public function.
6. For each public space a system will be set up to balance voluntary and paid contributions (hours) to the management and running of the public space(s). The general rule of thumb should be: as many tasks as possible are done by volunteers. Keeping costs low means higher affordability which in turn creates room for experimentation.