Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Meet our new neighbors: The Squatters

Geen leegstand meer in dit pand!
How is possible for someone to 'legally' break into an apartment or house, that they don't own, and call it their new place of residence? Well anything can happen in the Netherlands! But actually, it is no longer legal to squat apartments/houses, but apparently it's still happening. Here's proof of that. Haha! The idea that you can do this is and not get arrested is absolutely ridiculous to me. 

Behind our apartment complex is a row of houses, some of which have been sold, bordered up, or knocked down. Enter the squatters and our new neighbors! One day when Jaap came home from work he told me to come look out the balcony and see the squatters in action. There they were, knocking out the cement blocks that cover the windows one by one, which by the way took them many hours. The pictures that you're looking at were taken from our balcony. 

Here is a little progression of how the squatters made this place their new home. First you have to break in with at least one chair, bed, and a table to claim residency. Jaap says that once you're in the apartment or house, you have to notify the local police. Haha. Sometimes an arrangement is set up to pay rent, but I don't know how this works and if it actually happens at all.
The sign that they hung next to it says, Geen leegstand meer in dit pand, which means, No vacancy anymore in this building. 

You're probably wondering why squatting was even legal to begin with. Hmmm...me too! According to Jaap, squatting can help alleviate a housing shortage crisis by allowing people who need housing to move into vacant buildings. I still don't get it, but it was fun to watch someone break into a house in broad daylight. FYI...squatting is now illegal in the Netherlands, so we're still trying to figure out how this happened.

Here is the finished product! Tah dah! Poof you have an apartment!

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