Groningen: Statement by Akerkstraat squatters to the council

Dear Councillors,

As the people who live in Akerkstraat 16a we are pleased to be able to speak at this needed debate about the housing shortage among students, mostly internationals, in Groningen. It is clear to us that this is a matter of urgency. Every year thousands of international students are lured to the city to come and study here. What should have been a wonderful time in a beautiful city turns out to be a tragedy for many of them, just as this year. There are not enough houses, especially ones that are affordable, in the city to accommodate all those students. At this moment hundreds of students are in the emergency shelter they are expected to leave at the end of this month. Most of them have not yet found alternative housing. [Read More]

Utrecht: Derelict buildings squatted out of housing shortage and protest against vacancy

Since last weekend, a group of young people have been living in the long since vacant houses at the Burgemeester Reigerstraat 48-53 in Utrecht.

The occupation is both a direct approach to a need for life – the young people are looking for housing – and a protest against the current housing policy. The action, part of a national wave, criticized Squatting and Vacancy Act from 2010 and the intention to tackle squatting even harder. “The residents are of the opinion that not squatting, but vacancy and housing shortage must be tackled”, according to a spokesman. The buildings on Burgemeester Reigerstraat have been vacant for more than five years. Owner Marcel Paping plans to demolish the four buildings and build four new buildings and retail space in their place. A parking garage is to be built under the buildings. He has the permits for his plan, except for the entrance to the basement. Many neighbours are of the opinion that a large underground car park will seriously disturb the peace and quiet in the street. Paping plans to nail up the empty buildings if the Municipality does not grant him all the permits. Half a year ago, the buildings were also squatted. Then the police went on a wrongful eviction. “Hopefully this time the police will be wise enough not to go for the owner’s trolley and go the right way”, says one of the squatters. [Read More]

Amsterdam: Oops we did again! Amstel 45 squatted.

Sunday, 22-09-19 we successfully squatted the building at Amstel 45. The owner of this building is the biggest real-estate owner of Amsterdam and an speculator. There have been buildings owned by Veldhuijzen squatted before, Amstelkade 20 (2016), Admiraal de Ruijterweg 76 (2008). Johannes Cornelis Martinus Veldhuijzen is the owner of 512 properties in Amsterdam, he has more buildings on his name than Prince Bernhard van Oranje Nassau! (see for details the Parool article mentioned below). We know the building has been empty for 2 years and currently there is a building stop, which means the owner is prohibited to work on the building any further and he also doesn’t have any plans for the building at this moment.
We are against vacancy, leaving buildings empty and left to rot, and we squat because of vacancy! During the first week of occupation, we didn’t have any contact with the owner. Wednesday the 26 of September, we received the court papers for a fast civil procedure. His story had a lot of inconsistency and no concrete plans and because of this and the new squatting law that is coming, we decided it’s a good time to fight back! We went to court on the 1st of October and now we are waiting for the verdict, the 15th of October. The owner himself did not show up in court and he still has shown no willingness to communicate with us in any way. Will keep you guys updated!
[Read More]

Groningen: Former Heijkens building squatted by students

A few days ago, a group of students occupied the former Heijkens building on Akerkstraat. The youngsters who are looking for housing are trying to raise the issue of the national housing shortage. The squatting action is part of a national campaign in the context of the nine-year squatting ban. “During this time, it was mainly squatters who had to suffer, while landowners and speculators get away with vacancy. So the ban is not a solution to the housing shortage”, according to the students’ spokesman.

Since 1 October 2010, the Squatting and Vacancy Act applies. The purpose of this law was to reduce the vacancy rate in the Netherlands. However, research commissioned by the Ministry of Security and Justice and the Ministry of the Interior shows that the effects of the vacancy policy are hardly visible. At the beginning of this year, some 96,500 m² of office space was vacant in the city of Groningen, half of which is not even for rent or sale. The vacancy rate of office buildings in the Netherlands has almost doubled. [Read More]

Utrecht: Squatting during national day of action – police proceed to unlawful eviction

The national day of action against the ban on squatting was also held in Utrecht today. A group of squatters has just added the vacant building at Reactorweg 164-172 to the housing stock. Help with the occupation is welcome, so come along!

The building, owned by De Waal Beheer, has been empty for quite some time now and plans for use by the owner seem to be lacking. While the CDA and VVD in their own-initiative law are working on new legislation to protect property owners even better against squatters, this action shows that squatting is still the only effective means for people searching for housing to combat vacancy. [Read More]

Amsterdam: Squatting goes on!

Since the 1960s, squatting has been going on in the Netherlands. Since then, the housing shortage has only increased. And so it is still being squatted. You could call it a contrary tradition. Today, too, but today we make ourselves extra visible.
Why?
In opposition to the recently tabled amendment proposal for the Squatting and Vacancy Act.
Although the above mentioned law already came into force in 2010 and squatting became illegal, some politicians want to make the illegal use of housing even more illegal. The proposal is to make emergency evictions, including emergency lawsuits, the norm within a time frame of 3 days.
This seems superfluous, because at the moment, too, homeowners have sufficient resources at their disposal to be able to evacuate squatters. [Read More]

Netherlands: National day of action against the ban on squatting


Ban the squatting ban!

Since the 1960s, squatting has functioned as a mean of action to stress out a failing housing and vacancy policy: the reason why for decades a squatting ban was regarded as undesirable without any associated effective measures to prevent vacancy. Although squatting has been banned by law since 2010, vacancy and housing shortage have doubled in the past 10 years. And so people are still squatting. The VVD and the CDA do not see vacancies and housing shortages as a problem, but squatting is. At the moment, these parties are working hard for a change in the law to ensure that squatters can be evicted more quickly, without tackling the underlying problems. Because this law will put the legal position of squatters and precarious residents under severe pressure and will only further increase the historically high vacancy rates and homelessness, actions are taking place in various parts of the country today.

One-sided effectuation Squatting and Vacancy Act

Almost 10 years ago, the Squatting and Vacancy Act was passed, on the condition that not only squatting, but also vacancy had to be reduced. Whereas squatting has always been (and still is!) an important stick behind the door of pawnbrokers, from now on municipalities should play a more active role in tackling speculation on vacant property and impoverishment. Fines for structural vacancy, however, have hardly been imposed and thanks to the gigantic boost of vacancy management/property guardianship, it has only become easier for speculators to conceal vacancy under the guise of ‘occupancy through temporary renting’. [Read More]

Amsterdam: Pretoriusstraat 89hs resquatted

Today 8 september 2019, Pretoriusstraat 89 ground floor has been resquatted. Owner is the family van Zijl from Wilnis, known as infamous real estate speculators in Amsterdam. Until 2013, the building has been used by several butcheries. After, it stood empty for a few years until it was squatted in February 2016. The squatters had to leave in 2018, because the owner wanted to renovate the neglected building and convert its function to living. Since then, not much has happened, the floor is empty and stripped, draughts and rain further damage the property.

The van Zijl family is known for its speculative real estate business, which is conducted through vacancy and neglect. Harry van Zijl, has been called the “Amsterdam King of the Slums”. His son, who takes over the company with a portfolio of more than 80 properties in Amsterdam, employs the same strategy. The more neglected a building, the easier it is to obtain different permits, for example converting its function. The longer it takes, the more it pays off. The housing shortage is not a social problem, but an opportunity for enrichment. That is why many of their houses have been squatted and re-squatted over the years. [Read More]

Netherlands: Stop the new law against squatting!!!

Squatting is not the problem, but the solution…..!!!!

The new bill on squatting has no added value whatsoever. Since the Squatting and Vacant Property Act came into force in 2010, the squatting of homes and business premises has been reduced enormously. People who want to squat are frightened by the sanctions that are imposed if caught in the act. Owners have a large number of options to bridge any temporary vacancies by registering or by hiring anti-squat companies.
It is precisely the massive deployment of vacancy management by owners that has made squatting considerably more difficult. Owners also have a legal option to have a squatted property to their disposal again. At least, provided they have adequate concrete plans for that building. It is this legal intermediate step that makes it clear whether owners speculate on properties or not. In that sense, squatters have always had a signal function. This important function disappears with this new law.
Squatting is already complicated enough for squatters under current legislation. Practice shows that most buildings remain squatted for less than 3 or 4 months. Squatters who have been working on this for a number of years often have to give up after such a period because it is difficult to constantly have to leave under pressure and start something new. The current practice and law is therefore really no problem for owners. They usually only lose the use of their property for a short period of time. [Read More]

Utrecht: Protest action against new anti squat law

Today, there was an attempt to resquat the Watertoren on the Amsterdamsestraatweg in Utrecht. This water tower has been squatted many times already. Today, squatters unfortunately failed. The water tower, a designated national monument, has not been in use since 1986. The real estate developer who bought it in 2014, has not succeeded yet in developing anything. At the same time, alternative uses are not tolerated and eviction for emptiness has been the systematic answer. This while the monumental building is falling into disrepair.

Today’s squatting action was intended as a protest against the plan of the CDA and VVD to tighten up the law against squatting. The aim of the 2010 law was to tackle both squatting and vacancy. In recent years, squatters have been the main target of prosecution, while only a few cities have been acting against emptiness. The new proposal gives squatters hardly any time and space to defend themselves. The right of residence of people who take matters into their own hands, is so further eroded. [Read More]

Amsterdam: No eviction for hotels! The squatting collective ‘De Mobiele Eenheid’ stays!

Building squatted
The squat collective De Mobiele Eenheid has squatted the Gedempte Hamerkanaal 86 / Spijkerkade 2 building a few weeks ago and has started a non-commercial social centre with a program of activities almost every day. After only a few weeks that the collective released the building from the control of real estate violence, an end to this freedom was threatening: The owner, Uri Ben Yakir, stepped to court because he intends to turn the building into a hotel.

The judge ruled yesterday, November the 20th, that the squat collective Mobiele Eenheid can stay until February 1, 2019. The collective demands action from politicians and considers to appeal the decision in court and oppose the eviction.

Overcrowded with hotels
Amsterdam is full of hotels and overcrowded with tourists. There is little to show of the so-called Hotel stop that announced the previous city council. The owner of the squatted building in the Gedempte Hamerkanaal 86 / Spijkerkade 2, a diamond merchant, also knows that real diamonds nowadays have two legs, enter through Schiphol and pull roll-up luggage. If it is up to De Mobiele Eenheid, no hotel in the city will be added. As long as politics does not succeed, squatting is necessary. [Read More]