Amsterdam police evacuates illegal squatters from three buildings

DutchAmsterdam.nl — Amsterdam police on Sunday evening evacuated three squatted buildings in Amsterdam-East.

Members of the Mobiele Eenheid (Mobile Unit, a riot squad), arrested 26 squatters.

Some fifty to sixty squatters had occupied the buildings at the Commelinstraat earlier that day.

According to housing corporation De Key the homes, which are for sale, had not been empty for longer than a year. This made the squatting operation illegal, leading the Justice Department and Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen to order the homes evacuated.

Twenty-two of the squatters were arrested inside the three buildings. Four additional squatters were arrested outside after they threw objects at police officers. All of those arrested are suspected of breach of domicile.

Legal Squatting

During the Seventies and Eighties the loosely organized squatters’ movements in the Netherlands won a number of rights designed to prevent property owners from speculating by purposely keeping their buildings empty for many years. If and when property values have gone up, it is easier to sell plots when the buildings are empty than when people are still living there.

if a building has not been used for a period of twelve months, and the owner can not demonstrate that he plans to ’soon’ start using the building again, squatting is tolerated.

In light of this law, squatters are seen as people who occupy the building ‘without right or title.’ The rightful owner can start a civil procedure to have the squatters removed, but in order to do so he will have to prove that he plans to make use of the building within a reasonable amount of time.

Legal Verdict Repealed

Last Thursday an appeals judge reversed an earlier verdict by a lower court which has ruled that there was no legal basis to evict ‘illegal squatters’ — those squatters who ignore the rules of squatting. The court verdict, wich effectively forbid evictions by court order, concerned a home at Oostzaanstraat that had be squatted less than two months after the last renter handed in his keys.

At the time the Mayor of Amsterdam vowed he would continue removing illegal squatters by court order — something the Municipality of Amsterdam has been doing for over 30 years — until he receives clear direction from the High Council of the Netherlands, the country’s Supreme Court.

According to the City it is imperative that home onwners are protected, and that illegally squatted buildings can continue to be evacuated by police on orders from the court.

Squatters have announced that they will appeal the reversal of the lower court decision with the Hoge Raad der Nederlanden (High Council of the Netherlands) — the country’s Supreme Court, situated in The Hague.

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This post was last updated: Sep. 15, 2011    

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