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Amsterdam no longer a city of squatters

Monday 25 June 2012

Two years after the introduction of a ban on squatting, Amsterdam has just 23 squats left, the Parool reported at the weekend.

Since the ban came into force, 350 squats have been cleared, the paper says.

A number of prominent ones remain - such as the Tabaks building on the Spuistraat, painted with a giant snake.

'Some of them are on the list to be cleared while others will not be emptied yet because the owner has no plans for them,' police commissioner Leen Schaap told the paper. 'There may be a Pole sitting in a flat somewhere that we are not aware of, but you can no longer call Amsterdam a squatters' city.'

Criminal offence

Before the ban came into effect in October 2010, squatting was legal if a property has been empty for at least a year and if the squat was registered with the police.

The new law means squatters face up to a year in jail if they take over an empty building, double that if violence is involved. It has also been made easier for local authorities to take over empty buildings which have been left empty for long periods.

Squatting has long been a part of the Dutch political scene. In the movement's heyday in the 1980s, there were some 20,000 squatters in the capital.

Is squatting justified when buildings have been left empty? Have your say in the comments box below.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Netherlands has quite an extensive social network of social housing, benefits and what else. There is no justification for squatting. The owner of a building has a duty to keep it in good condition (like no decaying fa├žades or crumbling walls), but no obligation to rent it.

Squatters are just freeloaders who want something for nothing. In case of Amsterdam, they wanted to live in the hypest part of the city without having money to pay for. Just social losers and criminals is what they are.

By Andre L. | 25 June 2012 9:28 AM

'There may be a Pole sitting in a flat somewhere that we are not aware of, but you can no longer call Amsterdam a squatters' city.'

............. Are you kidding me????!!!!!!!!

Again, the Poles are the problem. Natuurlijk.

By Bubba | 25 June 2012 1:17 PM

There is a high stock of empty buildings in the Netherlands. All the space should be used in service of the general public in such a small country. If squatting is banned then there shall be an incremental tax based on years of non utilization. The incremental tax can be used to fund shelters for the homeless.

By Utku Tekinel | 26 June 2012 12:02 AM

Police commissioner Leen Schaap: 'There may be a Pole sitting in a flat somewhere that we are not aware of'.

That's a low racist blow indeed. Why a Pole? The majority of Amsterdam squatters were/are Dutch. Dutch squatters know the law. Dutch squatters know how/where/and their rights. A Pole has no clue at all.

Look at your own cultural problems Meneer Schaap and stop blaming foreigners.

By dave | 26 June 2012 9:30 AM

First they came for the squatters....you know the drill.

By jason buttle | 26 June 2012 9:36 AM

'There may be a Pole sitting in a flat somewhere that we are not aware of, but you can no longer call Amsterdam a squatters' city.'

Is this quote for real? A police officer said this?

A lot of squatters are called low-lifes and criminals, the squat on the spui has a really nice restaurant and there is a lot of squat bars that serve very reasonably priced beer and good food. Not everyone is loaded with money. I dont see the problem with these kind of squats as they are contributing to Amsterdam. There are enough exclusive apartments and offices. I would call the squat bars an endangered species in comparison.

By Aoife | 26 June 2012 9:39 AM

Although I've never lived in a squat I think they did help to utilze spaces to live in. Especially in Amsterdam there are so many scummy landlords who either rent illegally or ones who only want to rent to rich expats so if you want to live there then your options are either some dive you don't have rights in or something really overpriced with ugly furniture... And to the guy who mentioned the "social housing" there's a 15-20 year waiting list.... so how does that help?

By Kendar of the North | 26 June 2012 10:10 AM

Hippies are labeled as being dirty.
Pot smokers as junkies.
Refugees as system abusers.
Now it's time to embarrass Poland again?
And these days squatters are labeled as freeloaders, without mention of housing shortages, mass unemployment, poor opportunity & tax extortion, ha!

Factually: buildings left empty for years go into decay. Many properties are bought up for speculative investment purposes & deliberately left empty, is that a fair system?
People you need to wake up & get re educated!!

By The visitor | 26 June 2012 12:42 PM

@Utku: There is almost no excessive housing stock that sits idle... that is a myth contradict by facts. The glut is in commercial space, office floors essentially, but you can't convert an office floor into flats without expensive changes to fit bathrooms, safety systems, and the extra weight.

@Kendar: living in central Amsterdam is not a right. People can easily find housing in Almere, Lelystad, Prumerand, Hooffdorp and commute daily.

By Andre L. | 26 June 2012 1:36 PM

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