Eviction of squatters by preliminary relief judge

In recent history, a building in The Netherlands could legally be squatted if it was empty, had not been in use for 12 months, and the owner had no urgent interest to use it. Although squatting was outlawed in 2010, the forced end of squatting can still only occur after the intervention of a judge. When dealing with squatted property, the quickest way to remove squatters is to get an eviction court order in preliminary relief proceedings. To get the relief granted, the owner needs to show his urgent interest. Refurbishment work is widely considered as such an urgent interest. Dutch Corporate Law lawyer Sander Schouten explains.

Eviction order of squatters in civil proceedings

In a recent court case, the Dutch housing corporation Portaal requested an eviction order in preliminary relief proceedings to remove squatters from some of their properties which Portaal wanted to develop. Portaal started to do some works but could not continue due to the presence of the squatters. The squatters were summoned to appear in preliminary relief proceedings.

Refurbishment work justifies urgent relief 

According to the preliminary relief judge, Portaal has showed sufficiently that a soil survey had been carried out and that they could resume the already started demolition and decontamination works. Furthermore, it has been established as an undisputed fact that in order to continue the work the placement of building equipment was required. Portaal stated that they want to make preparations in order to limit safety risks. The judge acknowledges this interest and considers that even a small risk is good enough reason to take precautionary measures.

Judge dismisses offer of voluntary eviction

One of the squatters suggested to make an agreement with Portaal saying the squatters would leave voluntarily (so without a court order needed) once the demolition works would actually start. The judge however ruled that this offer does not affect the urgent interests of Portaal. Besides, a property owner has the right and legitimate interest to be free to take all necessary measures needed for the realisation of this development project without being hindered by people who have no legal right to be there in the first place. The eviction order was granted and the squatters had to leave the premises within two weeks after the verdict.

Removing squatters via preliminary relief proceedings

This court case shows once again that a proprietary right is the most comprehensive right a person can have on a property. While an owner has the right to claim back his property of anyone who is holding or using it without his permission, a sought relief can only be granted in a preliminary relief proceeding when the owner has an urgent interest in the relief. In squat cases the judge also has to assess whether an eviction will lead to unjustifiable vacancy, which will be reason for a judge to deny the requested eviction order. Refurbishment and other building works are in general considered as urgent interest.

Dutch lawyer for eviction of squatters

The lawyers at Dutch law firm AMS in Amsterdam have many experience in squatters eviction cases.