Whats up with Squatting in Amsterdam

Posted on September 27, 2005

Its my last few days before my move to Holland. The movers come tomorrow, and my flight is at the end of the week. As such I am trying to get more and more into the Amsterdam way of life. Being several thousand miles away makes that a bit difficult. So I have been listening to Dutch podcasters, in particular BicycleMark. When he talks about his background and the great city he lives in, he comes across as a very intelligent, well spoken observer of life around him. But then he steers over to other topics and it gets more and more annoying to listen.

One of the recent topics, well, recent for me as I am catching up, has been about squatting and the eviction of the ‘Africa’ squat. He talks of the police and the owners of the building as evil people and the squatters as heroes defending their well-earned homes. I had an initial opinion about this, but I wanted more info. So searching around the net, the only info on squatting seems to be biased towards the squatters. I want to hear the owners’ stories. I think this is disgusting. I can’t believe we live in a world where people believe it is right to steal in such a blatant way, and then others praise them.

From what I gather here is how it works. If a building is unoccupied for about a year and this can be proven by visiting various agencies around the city then squatters can move in, even breaking locks, and set up a basic home. These squatters now have the same rights as a paying tenant. When the owner of the building decides he wants to use the building he has to go to court to get these people evicted. If I own something I want to be able to use it the way I want to use it when I want to use it. The idea of buying something and then having to prove to a court that you really want to use it before being allowed to kick these people out is horrible.