I learned something new last night. My husband came home from work and told me about the krakers (squatters) occupying the building next to the one in which he works. I have never heard the term kraker, and had no idea what he was talking about. He went on to explain what they do and the legalities of this practice in the Netherlands. I was surprised.

The law allows squatters to legally enter any building that has been uninhabited for more than one year. Until there are new renters or the building comes into use, they have the legal right to occupy the building. This law comes from the 1970's when there weren't enough homes for all the people, and uninhabited buildings became places for them to call home.

The building on the terrein where my husband works is an office building. It is huge, but has been empty for over a year. And in one way or another, these krakers have entered the building and now call it their space. Does something seem wrong with this picture?

To me, I find this practice one which puts me at a disadvantage. I have to pay for my home, taxes, power. If I was a squatter, I wouldn't have any of these costs. I may have to move around a lot, or get caught up in riots with the police, but legally they can't force me out without notice. And in an office building? How can that be considered proper housing? It seems a waste of government money to place protective forces to guard these buildings. And what about once they need to be forced out in a riot situation?

I can understand the squatters making their point, saying that these buildings shouldn't be left to rot and create situations such as this. That buildings have a purpose to be used, and not sit empty causing neighborhoods to become polluted. However, this practice seems unreal to me. They just overtake a space and call it their own? They don't follow the rules set forth by society and create a home of their own? I had no idea such a thing was legal.

So, I learned something new today. I certainly won't be leaving my home empty for year. I'd hate to come back to force a new family out of my own home.


Anonymous said...

Hmm.. I guess I learned something new today too.

Also another tidbit of info (from Wikipedia):

De situatie in Belgiƫ is vergelijkbaar: kraken is niet verboden bij wet, de braak is het enige duidelijk illegale aspect en de eigenaar kan enkel bij de vrederechter de uitzetting van de krakers eisen.


Tanya @ TeenAutism said...

It does sound like a strange law. There's a house a few blocks over from us that has been vacant for several years. It used to be a drug house and was properly renovated since then, but no one wants to buy it or rent it with its history. It's right on the corner too, so I'm glad that squatters are not allowed to claim it!

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

Squatter have rights in America too, but I don't know what they are. I do know they are part of the reason why, when you buy a house in America, the sellers won't let you move anything into it until the sale has been formally closed. Apparently even having possessions there, without occupying the space, has legal ramifications.