Squatting in the Netherlands

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ACU in Utrecht, squatted 1976 and bought 1994

Squatting in the Netherlands refers to the occupation of unused or derelict buildings or land without the permission of the owner. The modern squatters movement (Dutch: kraakbeweging) began in the 1960s in the Netherlands and became a powerful housing movement in the 1980s. At its height the squatters movement regularly came into conflict with the state, particularly in Amsterdam. Notable squats include ADM (evicted 2019) and Vrankrijk in Amsterdam, the Landbouwbelang in Maastricht, Grote Broek in Nijmegen, the Poortgebouw in Rotterdam, ACU in Utrecht and the Ruigoord village. Squatting was criminalised in 2010 and continues in diminished form.


Squatted house in Amsterdam, 1980

Squatting in the Netherlands in its modern form has its origins in the 1960s, when the country was suffering a housing shortage whilst at the same time many properties stood derelict. Property owners kept buildings empty in order to speculate and drive the market price upwards.[1] Squatting was seen as a political, anti-speculation move, influenced by the Provo movement. Property owners often neglected to repair buildings in the hope of obtaining demolition permits.[1] Squatting gained legal status under a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 1971 which stated that the concept of domestic peace (Dutch: huisvrede), requiring permission from the current occupant to enter a building applied to squatters as well as any other occupant. This meant that property owners could only evict squatters by taking them to court.[2]


The squatting movement took on an increasingly anarchist tone during the 1980s. In the Vondelstraat Riots, police moved to evict residents from a squatted building on the corner of Vondelstraat in Amsterdam, but it was immediately reoccupied and barricades erected. Street fights ensued between riot police and the squatters, with the building only being cleared when a military tank demolished the street barricades.[1] Queen Beatrix's coronation later that year saw more riots when squatters chanted No home, no coronation (Dutch: Geen woning, geen kroning).[1][2] In Groningen the eviction of the WNC squat in 1990 led to 137 arrests and the mayor called it war.[3]

In the past, squats sometimes went through a process of legalisation. This is the case with the Poortgebouw in Rotterdam, which was squatted in 1980. In 1982, the inhabitants agreed to pay rent to the city council.[4] In Amsterdam, OCCII, OT301 and Vrankrijk are examples of legalised social centres. The Grote Broek in Nijmegen was squatted in 1984 and legalised in the 2000s. The Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg in Leiden was occupied in 1968 and eventually evicted in 2010. ACU in Utrecht was squatted in 1976 and bought by the squatters in 1994. It provides many different activities.[5] There are also squats which refused or were unable to legalise such as De Blauwe Aanslag in The Hague (evicted 2003), Het Slaakhuis (evicted) in Rotterdam, ADM (evicted) in Amsterdam and the Landbouwbelang in Maastricht.

Oude Rooms-Katholieke Ziekenhuis (ORKZ) Groningen

ORKZ or the Old Roman Catholic Hospital (Dutch: Oude Rooms-Katholieke Ziekenhuis) is located in Groningen on the Verlengde Hereweg. The hospital was squatted in August 1979 and legalised in 1986. Nowadays, 250 people live there in 235 apartments. Another 150 people make use of the ateliers.[6] A derelict parking lot was taken over and made into a guerilla garden. Herbs and vegetables were grown in raised beds, fruit bushes were planted and an apiary was set up. The garden was legalised by the city council in 2012.[7]

There are also some squats in the countryside such as a squatted village called Ruigoord near Amsterdam. Fort Pannerden (a military fort built in 1869 near to Nijmegen) was occupied in 2000 by people concerned about the state of the building. It was evicted on November 8, 2006, by a massive police operation which used military machinery and cost one million euros.[8] The squatters then re-squatted the fort on November 26 and have since made a deal with the local council which owns the fort.[9][10] The deal stated that the squatters would receive a large piece of land to start a community in the rural area in between the city of Nijmegen and Arnhem. In exchange, the fort was handed over to local authorities, who turned it into a museum, with help provided by the former squatters.

There are still residential squats in most Dutch cities. The Dutch 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).[11]


A squatted freeshop in Utrecht, 2004

In 1987, the law was changed so that an owner could take anonymous squatters to court, rather than being required to know their names.[12] Then, in 1994, a law was passed in 1994 which made it illegal to squat a building which was empty for less than one year.[13] After this, it became conventional for squatters to call the police after occupying a building and if the police were satisfied that the building had been empty for a year and that the squatters were living there (as shown by having a chair, a table and a bed) then the owner would need to make a courtcase to regain possession.[12] Thus, squatting became a tactic to provide housing and also to fight speculation, conserve monumental buildings, provide groups with spaces and so on.[13]

Squatting in the Netherlands, particularly in Amsterdam, became a rather institutionalised process, although the squatters movement continued to evolve with one development being the occupation of large office buildings by refugee collectives.[14] One such group, We Are Here was established in 2012.[15] In a different development, squatting was used as a tool to contest the construction of the Betuweroute, a freight railway route from Rotterdam to Germany. GroenFront! and other environmental protestors occupied several houses due to be demolished. This included a failed attmept to squat a building in Angeren.[16]


Squatting ban sign

Squatting in the Netherlands became a criminal offence on 1 October 2010. In 2016, a report was published by the Dutch Government which stated that between October 2010 and November 2014, 529 people had been arrested for the new crime of squatting, in 213 separate incidents. Of these 529, 210 received convictions and 42 were found not guilty.[17]


Following criminalisation, in Amsterdam an estimated 330 squats were evicted in two years.[18] Contested evictions included ADM, the Tabakspanden on Spuistraat, the Valreep and Villa Friekens.[19][20]

In Utrecht, a disused watertower has been occupied repeatedly in protest at the criminalisation of squatting. In 2019, a resquat was unsuccessful.[21]

Table of notable squats[edit]

Name Location History (green=ongoing, pink=closed) Reference
ACU Utrecht squatted 1976, legalized 1994 [22]
ADM Amsterdam squatted 1997, evicted 2019 [23]
ASCII Amsterdam various squats 1999-2006 [24]
Blauwe Aanslag The Hague squatted 1980, evicted 2003 [25]
Fort Pannerden Near Nijmegen squatted 2000, evicted 2006, resquatted 2006, legalized 2006, renovated 2009 [26]
Grote Broek Nijmegen squatted 1984, legalized 2000s [27]
Landbouwbelang Maastricht squatted 2002 [28]
OCCII Amsterdam squatted 1984, legalized 1989 [29]
OT301 Amsterdam squatted 1999, bought 2006 [30]
Poortgebouw Rotterdam squatted 1980 [4]
Ruigoord Near Amsterdam squatted 1972 [31]
Slaakhuis Rotterdam squatted 2003, evicted 2011 [4]
Tabakspanden Amsterdam variously squatted 1983 onwards, all evicted 2015 [32]
Vrankrijk Amsterdam squatted 1982 [30]
Vrijplaats Koppenhinksteeg Leiden squatted 1968, evicted 2010 [33]
WNC Groningen squatted 1985, evicted 1990 [3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Squatting in Amsterdam". DutchAmsterdam.nl. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  2. ^ a b "Violent protests after Dutch outlaw squatting - Once-respected tradition of living in unused buildings is now a crime". NBC News. 1 October 2010. Retrieved 2014-04-27.
  3. ^ a b Vermeulen, Frank (30 June 1990). "Groningen en de nasleep van de krakersrellen; Het einde vaneen vrijstaat". NRC. Retrieved 21 April 2019. 'Het is oorlog', zei burgemeester Staatsen destijds.
  4. ^ a b c Dee, E.T.C. (2018). Squatting the Grey City. Rotterdam: Cobble Books. ISBN 9780244385804.
  5. ^ Poldervaart, Saskia (2006), "The connection between the squatter, queer and alterglobalization movement. The many diversities of multiculturalism", in Chateauvert, M (ed.), New Social Movements and Sexuality, Sofia: Bilitis Resource Center
  6. ^ Riemersma, Greta (10 September 2004). "Lage huren en de droom kunnen blijven dromen". Volkskrant. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  7. ^ Spijker, S. N.; Parra, C. (2017). "Knitting green spaces with the threads of social innovation in Groningen and London". Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. 61 (5–6): 1011–1032. doi:10.1080/09640568.2017.1382338.
  8. ^ "Politie hervat ontruiming Fort Pannerden". Nu.nl. 2006-11-08. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  9. ^ "Fort Pannerden voorlopig niet ontruimd". Nu.nl. 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  10. ^ "Fort Pannerden blijft voorlopig". Indymedia.nl. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
  11. ^ Pruijt, Hans (2011). "Logic of Urban Squatting". International Journal of Urban and Regional Research: 1–8.
  12. ^ a b Beale, Sam (1995). "WHAT'S THE KRAAK? As in the UK, squatting in Holland entails knowing the law and exploring the loopholes". SQUALL (10). Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  13. ^ a b Pruijt, Hans (2003). "Is the institutionalization of urban movements inevitable? A comparison of the opportunities for sustained squatting in New York City and Amsterdam". International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. 27 (1): 133–57. doi:10.1111/1468-2427.00436. hdl:1765/19213.
  14. ^ Boer, René (7 August 2017). "Squatting: historical movement or contemporary tactic?". Archined. Archived from the original on 2 September 2019. Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  15. ^ Mamadouh, Virginie; Wageningen, Anne van (2016-01-05). EU@Amsterdam: Een stedelijke raad. ISBN 9789048531448.
  16. ^ Dinther, Mac van (5 April 2000). "Weer is Betuwelijn dag vertraagd". de Volkskrant (in Dutch). Retrieved 28 September 2019.
  17. ^ Dee, E.T.C. (2016-05-14). "The vacancy crunch: The current housing crisis in the Netherlands and the repression of squatting". CNS Journal. Archived from the original on 29 June 2019. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Amsterdam ontruimt 330 panden sinds kraakwet". Reformatorisch Dagblad (in Dutch). ANP. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019. In totaal zijn in Amsterdam sinds de invoering van de nieuwe wet Kraken en Leegstand in oktober 2010, 330 kraakpanden ontruimd.
  19. ^ Beentjes, Jesse (14 August 2016). "Op het ADM-terrein kleur je buiten de lijntjes". Parool (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 August 2019. De afgelopen jaren is Amsterdam een aantal van zijn vrijplaatsen binnen de stad kwijtgeraakt: het Slangenpand aan de Spuistraat werd ontruimd, de Valreep in Oost moest plaatsmaken voor woningbouw en Villa Friekens in Noord werd verlaten voordat de ME eraan te pas kwam.
  20. ^ "Laatste Circus in Vrijhaven ADM". NRC (in Dutch). 13 August 2017. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  21. ^ "Kraakpoging bij watertoren Amsterdamsestraatweg mislukt". NU (in Dutch). DUIC. 19 August 2019. Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019. Een poging om de watertoren aan de Amsterdamsestraatweg te kraken is zondagmiddag mislukt.
  22. ^ Pelser, Caroline. "Voorstraat 71-73 ACU Utrecht". Huizen aan het Janskerkhof. Retrieved 2019-03-21. Na enige jaren van leegstand werden Voorstraat 71 en Voorstraat 73 in 1976 gekraakt.
  23. ^ Kallenberg, Freek (1997-11-14). "Oude Tijden Herleven op De Adm / The old times relive, at the ADM". Ravage 246. Amsterdam. Archived from the original on 2019. Retrieved 2019-02-21.
  24. ^ "ASCII". Hack Story. Archived from the original on 18 July 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  25. ^ van IJzendoorn, Patrick (1995-12-01). "15 Jaar Blauwe Aanslag (Dutch)". NN 198. The Hague. Archived from the original on 13 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Krakers mogen Fort Pannerden beheren". Gelderlander (in Dutch). 14 December 2006. Archived from the original on 30 June 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  27. ^ Beau (30 October 2014). "30 Jaar de Grote Broek". Nijmegen Cultuurstad. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  28. ^ Janssen, Bert (29 September 2013). Cultural Freezone Landbouwbelang (in Dutch). Maastricht: Organic Press. ISBN 978-90-75924-12-1. Archived from the original on 25 February 2019.
  29. ^ Beale, Sam; Cobbing, Nick (1995). "KRAAKING THE SYSTEM Dutch squatters have their own brand of negotiation - and it works". SQUALL (10). Archived from the original on 30 August 2019. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  30. ^ a b Lohman, Kirsty (2015). PhD: Punk Lives: Contesting Boundaries in the Dutch Punk Scene (phd). Warwick University. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  31. ^ Carlisi, Tina (2018). "Free Cultural Spaces: Freedom of Expression in Autonomous Geographies". Seismopolite Journal of Art and Politics. 20.
  32. ^ "Eviction of Amsterdam squatters turns violent". Al Jazeera English. 26 March 2015. Archived from the original on 16 October 2019. Retrieved 16 October 2019.
  33. ^ Poldervaart, Saskia (2001). "Utopian Aspects of Social Movements in Postmodern Times: Some Examples of DIY Politics in the Netherlands". Utopian Studies. 12 (2): 143–163. JSTOR 20718321.

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