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The Netherlands

Squatter's rights in Holland

Amsterdam, 2000 —

"In Amsterdam, the average waiting period for a (student's) dormitory room is longer than the length of a course of study.", a pro-squatting website.

Kraken gaat door = "squatting lives on." The website has been effectively defunct since 2008.

Holland has a famous libertine treatment of the rights of squatters — people who occupy property that belongs to somebody else.

The way that I heard squatter's rights described is this: If a building is unoccupied, and if there is no specific planning for its use that is in progress, it is legal to overtake it and live in it. It is legal, or if not legal not normally prosecuted, to break the lock on the door of such an unused building.

Once inside — or so I heard — there are three items that one must have in order to establish the place as a squat; one must bring in a table, a chair, and a bed. Again, I just heard that. I know it sounds suspect and it may not be true. In any case of its establishment, once a squat is established, it is theoretically illegal to evict the residents within.

When I was living in Amsterdam, there was a squat on Entrepotdok that included a nice funky café-teahouse. From the couch in the front area, one could see out the front double-door entrance to the African antelope at the zoo across a canal. Several people lived in the building, which as a business and a residence was run as a collective. The building, an old industrial brick structure, known as Kalenderpanden, was set for renovation into luxury homes. There was significant protest from the residents and others involved in the squatter's movement. The local government was well in favor of the eviction and renovation. In October of 2000, it was emptied by riot police with tear gas. I don't know if it was further contested, or what has become of the site since then.

The squatter's movement was established in the 1960's in Amsterdam, a city of notorious housing shortage, and over the years it has involved some rather serious politics. There have been running street battles, and defiant holding of disputed properties, though in recent years the action has cooled down. Some of this has to do with the legalization of some squats, meaning they are no longer contested. Some of it has to do with an improving economy, vacant buildings just not being as prevalent. Some of it may just have to do with changing attitudes, as Dutch politics turns to the right and becomes colder.


I found you[r] page through an article about the dutch customs. I read your article about squatters. It's almost correct, but not totally. This is how it works: the building has to be vacant for at least 2 whole years. Then the squatters tell the local govermetn they want to squat it. They go to the local squatorginisation, they have all kind of (professional equipment) they help to break in. Then you indeed need to place a bed, chair and table inside. When this is done the squatters call the cops, they check it out, report it and it's legal from that moment.



— From an email

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