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Utrecht: neccesity breaks law marks the 12 anniversary of the squatting ban in the Netherlands.

Utrecht (Netherlands) – On October 1, 2022, exactly 12 years after the Squatting and Vacancy Act (Wet Kraken en leegstand) came into effect, the office spaces above the Intersport on Oudegracht 106-108 were squatted. The squatters aim to demonstrate that squatting is still a legitimate option in addressing and combating the housing crisis and homelessness. Although the law is supposed to combat vacancy, vacancy rates have only increased since the squatting ban. At the same time, there is an unprecedented housing crisis, which means that people searching for a house are on waiting lists, miss out on houses because investors outbid them and, when they do manage to get a house, have to work their asses off to pay the rent. This while squatting and the squatting movement have been criminalized and persecuted.

On Thursday, October 29, the vacant premises on Oudegracht were squatted. The squatters announced this on Oct. 1, exactly 12 years after the law against Squatting and Vacancy came into effect. In 1930, the largest restaurant in Utrecht, Heck’s Lunchroom, opened here at the corner of Potterstraat and Oudegracht. Starting in 1998, the first two floors were converted into an Intersport store. The top two floors were then leased as office space but have since lost this function. Since 2019, there has been talk of a rooftop restaurant, and permits were sought to convert the office into a hotel and change the facades. However, these permits were denied, and three years later, the two floors above the Intersport are still not being used.

According to the squatters, squatting is still a legitimate option, simultaneously addressing the current housing crisis and growing homelessness. “Although squatting has been criminalized since the 2010 squatting ban, squatting is still possible. It is a legitimate form of direct action that addresses housing vacancy and directly converts that vacancy into housing.” Indeed, squatting still serves as an effective tool against speculators and housing corporations that use houses only as tools to make profit.

Other locations in Utrecht also called attention to the housing shortage, to properties being evicted for vacancy, and to the criminalization of squatting. Banners were hung on buildings and above the highway in several locations in Utrecht. One banner on the building squatted several times in recent years at Archimedeslaan 16, reads “Evicting for vacancy is asking for resistance.” Here, more than three years ago, in July 2019, 400 students had to make way for the demolition of the buildings that still has not taken place.

In Utrecht alone, more than 1,500 buildings are already empty and it takes at least nine years before it is one’s turn to move into social housing. The squatters hope to encourage people with this action: “You can’t live on a waiting list. With this we hope to encourage people to take matters into their own hands and demand their right to live. After all, having a roof over your head is a first necessity of life, while property is not.”

This article is republished from


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