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 the 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 reused. This prevents actual squatting, which is illegal. It also helps preserve the building by preventing vandalism and leaving it in disarray. Then, of course, it helps with the waiting list for rental properties as it gives a space for people to rent (we’ve ranted about the housing issue loads of times on DutchReview). This is usually perfect 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 — and 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 get housing.
- It’s considerably cheaper than normal rental properties. And as we know, some rental prices are just madness. This way you have a roof over your head without being ripped off. You technically are only paying for the bills and not much extra, that’s why it’s so cheap. The person who owns the building gets rewarded for not leaving it in disarray and of course it avoids any nasty fines. However, there is a concern that they are making a profit, when they shouldn’t.
- It’s temporary and you have the freedom to terminate your rent whenever you want, providing you only leave at least 14 days notice to the agency.
- It helps keep the crime rate low. A neighbourhood full of derelict and abused houses not only makes the area look run down, but it can actually encourage it. We want every building to be loved! This can be possible if people are moving into the space to live or work.
- 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 it should be taken with a pinch of salt. As long as you are aware of these disadvantages and they work for you, then they might not be disadvantages!
The disadvantages of anti-squatting in the Netherlands
You have somewhat 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 not safe 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.
- They can show up unannounced using a key. Although it’s rare for them to do it, often, they are allowed to do it, so you’ll have to compromise some privacy.
- If you have children, it’s a no-go for some properties. They usually aren’t allowed to stay in the building and if you happen to fall pregnant, this can be a reason for them to terminate your contract with them.
- You have fewer rights. Generally, the same rules don’t apply than with a properly rented property, 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 means that automatically you’ll have fewer rights.
- You can only stay in the property for 5 years maximum and even then it is extremely rare to stay in a property for that long. So if you’re looking for a long-term home, this likely won’t be the solution.
- 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.
- You usually pay a registration fee, along with a deposit (like other rental properties) and sometimes even an interview.
- In some instances, you will be charged a €50 safety fee. This means that you’ll have fire safety items, like some fire alarms and a fire extinguisher.
There will be rules (!) such as, you:
- Must not leave for more than 3 nights at once
- Are not allowed any guests to stay the night
- Are not allowed to take any kind of drug while in the property
- Cannot make any kind of major (such as structural) changes
- Are not allowed parties (waaaa)
- Must inform the agency if you’re off on your holidays, 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 website. Here you can start applying:
- Antikraak Direct
- Ad Hoc
- Bewaakt en Bewoond
There might be something to complain about these anti-squatting agencies in the Netherlands, feel free to do so in the comments.
Congrats on your new home/office — and remember: no parties! (looking for tips on furnishing it cheaply? Click here).
Have you had any experience with anti-squatting? Tell us in the comments!
Feature Image: Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July 2018, and was fully updated in November 2020 for your reading pleasure.