Squatting: the end of an era

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at https://www.rnw.org/about-rnw-media.

The squatters have been warned: as of 1 October it is against the law to occupy an empty house without permission from the owner. However, not every Dutch town or city is prepared to forcibly evict the squatters. In many places there is heated discussion about the prospect of using police to evict existing squats.

Squatting in the Netherlands dates from the 1950s, when young people began to move into unoccupied blocks of flats in reaction to the extreme housing shortage. At its peak in the 1980s, the movement involved around 20,000 squatters. They campaigned against speculators who deliberately kept houses and office buildings empty and waited for property prices to rise.