Squatters’ Rights

Damage left by rioting squatters.

Damage left by rioting squatters.

I was wandering through town today and saw a whole lot of damage on the street. Evidence of rubbish, fires, signs uprooted. But oddly no bikes damaged.

I didn’t know what it was about until I got home this evening and checked out the local news. Apparently there were riots on Friday night, by the local squatters.

A law came into effect on Friday banning squatters, there are several squats on the Spuistraat, one of which has been there for more than 25 years. The squatters’ rights were maintained for years and it meant that property developers would hire “anti-squatters” to live in empty properties since you could only claim empty properties as squats. I’m sure there’s some political justification why it’s OK to take over empty buildings, destroy the inside and live there without paying rent or property taxes but it eludes me.

"thanks for the damage"

So the law has been changed, and the squatters protested last night. At first the protest was peaceful, but it soon degenerated into a riot, with property being destroyed, some cars being overturned and shopfronts destroyed.

There’s a video in Dutch showing some of the events of the night, and more images on Nu.nl (click on “fotoseries”)

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2 thoughts on “Squatters’ Rights

  1. I only heard about it after it had happened as well. Luckily I was already out of Amsterdam already since I have to pass through that area.

    I think it kind of sucks. Not all squatters are bad and some really look after the places. And what does this mean for people who live in anti-squatter accommodation? they all lose their cheap housing?

  2. I’m sure there’s some political justification why it’s OK to take over empty buildings, destroy the inside and live there without paying rent or property taxes but it eludes me.

    There are two issues. One is that of taking over a home, the second that of eviction. Both are founded in the Dutch notion that we live in a very densely populated country where finding a place is difficult. (I am not saying this is true, merely that this is how we perceive it.)

    To start with the latter, the sanctity of home is seen as just that here, sacred. If a squatter has made a home somewhere, they cannot be evicted just like. The new, politically motivated law, has tried to remedy this, but has also already been overturned partially.

    This sanctity of the home also makes it difficult to act against suspected domestic violence.

    So when is a squatter considered to have built himself a home? Forgive me if a get this wrong, I am doing this from memory, but I believe these to be the rules that the courts have upheld: a squatter can take over a property if he enters a property that has been empty for more than year, and puts a bed and a chair in there.

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