Squatting and crime are not things you see much of in the Netherlands compared to other countries, although they do of course exist. Anti-squatting initiatives are helping to keep both of these down.
Anti-squatting in the Netherlands is basically a legal version of squatting. You can temporarily stay in an empty building (usually buildings like an old school or office), for a cheap price until the property is demolished or repurposed. This prevents actual squatting, which is illegal. It also helps preserve the building by preventing vandalism.
Another advantage of anti-squatting is that it helps with the waiting list for rental properties by offering housing solutions (we’ve ranted about the housing issue loads of times). This can be great for people who are studying, are start-ups, or just regular citizens who are here for a few months.
But is it as perfect as that? No, not really — we’ll touch on that later.
The benefits of anti-squatting in the Netherlands
- More housing, less of a housing crisis — it’s a no-brainer. Of course, it’s not fool-proof and doesn’t solve the issue, but it definitely gives people more of an opportunity to find housing.
- It’s considerably cheaper than normal rental properties — and as we know, some rental prices are just madness. This will ensure that you have a roof over your head without being ripped off. In antikraak housing, you are technically only paying for the bills and not much extra, that’s why it’s so cheap. The person who owns the building is also rewarded for keeping it in good condition. This way, they avoid any nasty fines.
- It’s temporary and you have the freedom to terminate your rent whenever you want, provided you give the agency at least 14 days notice. As a result, this can be a great option whilst you’re looking for something more permanent.
- It helps keep the crime rate low. A neighbourhood full of derelict and disused houses not only makes the area look run down, but it can actually encourage crime. Empty buildings can provide a venue for antisocial behaviour such as drug abuse. In areas where people take pride in their living and working environments this is less likely to happen.
- If you have been asked to leave and you’ve been a good tenant, most agencies will help you find somewhere else to live — so you won’t be left to fend for yourself entirely.
Before we get onto the disadvantages (and as you can see the list is much larger), I just want to point out that they should be taken with a pinch of salt. As long as you are aware of these potential downsides and can make it work, then they might not be disadvantages at all!
The disadvantages of anti-squatting in the Netherlands
To some degree, you have less freedom when staying in an anti-squatting property. For instance:
- The waiting lists don’t end there! If you thought securing an anti-squatting property meant an easy sell, that’s not always the case. Demand is still high, so you’ll likely be put onto a waiting list — urrrghh!
- It’s temporary and you have less security in terms of knowing for sure how long you’ll be there for (there likely won’t be an end date). Things can change and you only have between 14 and 28 days to find a new place to rent (they don’t have to give you a reason to leave).
- It can be hard to get into as sometimes you need to be referred to the agency by a previous or current tenant, so if you don’t know anyone, you could be out of luck.
- The agency can show up unannounced using a key. Although it’s rare for them to do it, they are often allowed to do so, meaning you you may have to compromise some privacy.
- If you have children, it’s a no-go for some properties. Kids usually aren’t allowed to stay in the building and if you happen to fall pregnant, this can be a reason for the agency to terminate your contract.
- You have fewer rights. Generally, the rules that apply for regular rental properties don’t apply with antikraak housing, so bear that in mind. You sign a loan agreement, that states you’ll be ‘loaning’ the property for only a limited amount of time. This automatically means that you won’t have the same protections that you would with an officially rented property.
- You can only stay in the property for a maximum of five years and even then it is extremely rare to be able to stay for that long. So if you’re looking for a long-term home, this likely won’t be the solution for you.
- You may not have adequate facilities when it comes to things like heating and bathrooms — so do check this or else you may end up with issues such as being extremely cold in the winter!
Other important information about anti-squatting in the Netherlands:
- Like other rented properties, you must keep the place clean, tidy and you usually cannot overly decorate the property either.
- You must usually be over 18 to rent with them.
- A registration fee, along with a deposit are usually required (like other rental properties) and sometimes you may have an even an interview.
- In some instances, you will be charged a €50 safety fee. This means that you’ll be provided fire safety equipment, like some fire alarms and a fire extinguisher.
There will be rules (!) such as, you:
- Must not leave for more than three nights at once
- Are not allowed any guests to stay the night
- Are not allowed to take any kind of drug while on the property
- Cannot make any kind of major (such as structural) changes — sorry, no new kitchen for you!
- Are not allowed parties (waaaa)
- Must inform the agency if you’re off on holiday, because they can refill the space while you are gone.
Anti-squatting organizations in the Netherlands
Here are some of the anti-squatting agencies in the Netherlands. To get started, you should sign up on their websites. Some anti-squat agencies you need to be “introduced” to — for example, by a friend who already rents with them.
- Antikraak Direct
- Ad Hoc
- Bewaakt en Bewoond
Congrats on your new home/office — and remember: no parties!
Have you ever lived in an anti-squatting property? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below!
Feature Image: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2018, and was fully updated in June 2021 for your reading pleasure.