I am sharing images of abandoned houses in Amsterdam, which are decaying. Decay is Thursday Special Theme at Paula’s blog, Lost in Translation. I wasn’t sure on what to post. Struck by luck, when returning home last Friday, I passed in front of these abandoned houses.
Some of them have been occupied by squatters. Squatters occupy abandoned or unoccupied area of land and/or a building – usually residential – that they don’t own, rent or have lawful permission to use.
There are many residential squats in Dutch cities. We call it ‘Kraken’ in Dutch. Dutch squatters use the term krakers to refer to people who squat houses with the aim of living in them (as opposed to people who break into buildings for the purpose of vandalism or theft).
This house has been occupied by squatters for some years.
Squatting begun around 1964 and became legal in the Netherlands in 1971, after a ruling by the Supreme Court. There were several moves to ban squatting in the past. In 2006, there was a political divide in the houses of parliament to ban or not squatting. Squatters made nationwide protests.
A building could be used legally by squatters if it was empty and not in use for twelve months, and the owner had no pressing need to use it. Forcing an entry, was illegal though.
Once the building was squatted, the owner would receive a letter and the police would inspect the squat. The police checked whether the place was indeed lived in by the squatter. In legal terms, this means there must be a bed, a chair, a table and a working lock on the door which the squatter can open and close.
In 2010, the squatting ban was accepted by both houses of Parliament and became illegal and punishable. Protests and riots by the squatters followed in Amsterdam.
In 2011, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands decided that the legally forced end of squatting can only occur after an intervention of a judge.
It is very common to see empty office buildings being temporarily occupied by youngsters, in agreement with the owners, just to prevent squatting.