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Squatting: What are the rules?

Because of the group WE ARE HERE, the phenomenon of squatting has gained a lot of attention again after the squatting of a company building in Westpoort. When the owner came to assess the situation, he was denied access, which led to a lot of indignation.

But what about the legislation on squatting? In an article published in the magazine Huurrecht in Praktijk (HIP) I explain this and discuss developments in the field of squatting up to and including 2018.

The article discusses, among other things, that there are 3 ways to achieve eviction of squatters:

– Criminal eviction

The initiative lies with the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to the policy rules of the Public Prosecution Service, a criminal eviction is announced, but not within 7 days after the announcement. The squatters can then contest the proportionality of the eviction in summary proceedings.

The advantage for the owner of this type of eviction is that the costs are for the State. Disadvantage is that the owner is dependent on the Public Prosecutor’s Office as to whether and when the eviction will take place.

– Civil law eviction

With this form, the owner himself starts summary proceedings against the squatters. The judge will then assess whether the interest of the squatters’ right of residence outweighs the interest of the owner to have the property at his disposal. Such an interest may be that the owner has concrete plans for the property in the short term.

Advantage for the owner of this type of eviction is that it is possible to determine when this means is being used, the disadvantage is the costs.

– Administrative eviction

In the case of administrative law evictions, squatting is also contrary to public law regulations. If, for example, the zoning plan does not have a residential purpose (but, for example, a business), then squatting is contrary to the zoning plan. The owner can then request enforcement. This was applied, for example, to the squatting of the ADM site in Amsterdam North.

Here again, the advantage for the owner is that the costs are, in principle, for the enforcing authority; As well, the disadvantage is again that the initiative does not lie with the owner.

Read more  

You can read more in this article about these types of evictions and many examples of the trade-off between the squatters’ rights and the interests of the owner. It also discusses case law on, among other things, the definition of squatting, the identity of the squatter and government liability for squatting.

Read the article here.

Any questions? Please contact us.

Advocaat Ginio Beij: beij@m2advocaten.nl

Multiple door bells in an apartment building

Dissatisfied with Owners Association (VvE)-manager? There is something you can do.

In my practice, I come across it regularly. Complaints about VVE managers. The complaints vary, but there are a number of recognisable elements, such as poor communication, slow reaction to complaints and inefficient use of financial resources.

Although there is a lot of dissatisfaction lurking, it is not (yet) common for real action to be taken. As a result, the VVE manager remains and continues working the same way, while the service provision leaves much to be desired.

That is why it ss special that I recently had the opportunity to deal with a case in which a number of VVE residents no longer accepted it, which eventually led to proceedings. It is interesting how the judge has assessed the manager’s actions.

Quality procedure of VVE-Manager

What on earth was going on? In a VVE in Amsterdam of approx. 280 apartments, a housing corporation owns the majority. A party affiliated with the housing corporation has been appointed as manager.

In practice, however, there are many complaints about the conduct of the manager. A selection of the complaints:

– Slow response to repair requests from residents: There were cases known of residents who literally had fungal problems for years because of leaks, without any actions being taken;

– Insufficient check on suppliers’ invoices: Typical example of this is that an order was given to mop up some dirt on one of the stairs in the stairwell. € 800,- was invoiced for this, according to the specification 10 man-hours and 10 hours of parking. Not only was this out of proportion, it was also free parking that day so this was not correct either. Nevertheless, the manager paid for it without asking questions;

– Lack interest with procurement: A new building insurance was taken out, where the premium went over five times, from ca € 10.000,- to € 50.000,-. Upon enquiry it appeared that the manager had not asked for more than one offer.

Another factor was that the manager was not independent of the housing corporation. For this reason, there was too little opposition to plans of the housing corporation that were not in the interest of other members. For example, a neighbourhood manager was appointed at the expense of the VVE for € 18,000 per year, who was employed by the housing corporation but had little added value for the VVE.

A number of VVE members were distressed by these developments and collected the various complaints and also discussed them with the manager. After no improvement was made, a meeting of the VVE was proposed to terminate the management agreement. This was blocked by the majority vote of the housing corporation.

Subsequently, the VVE members submitted this decision to the Subdistrict Court. On the initiative of the Subdistrict Court, a committee was even set up to examine the actions of the manager. The majority of this committee advised negatively on the continuation of the management relationship,

In the end it weighed heavily on the Subdistrict Court that there were many different complaints about the manager, this in combination with the non-independent position. The court therefore annulled the decision that the manager could remain and ruled that the board was authorised to terminate the management agreement.[1] In the meantime, the management agreement has indeed been terminated and a new manager is ready to take over his place.

5 steps in the event of under-qualified management by the VVE

The lessons learned from this are the following:

  1. Collect the complaints and substantiate them with documentation: It is of course important if there is dissatisfaction about the manager that you underpin your complaints. Just “not being satisfied” without clarifying the why will not change the situation. It is therefore essential to provide good insight into what is going wrong.
  2. Firstly, start a conversation with the manager: It is important that the manager gets a chance to improve first. Use the documentation to make clear what complaints there are and make measurable agreements to improve management. If this goes well, then the problem is solved. Otherwise it is time for the next step.
  3. Check the cancellation options in the management agreement and prepare a good alternative: If the VVE already wants to appoint a new administrator, it must be clear by what deadline this can be done. It is also important to have selected a good alternative, or preferably more than one, so that it is possible to switch to a new administrator immediately.
  4. Ensure support within the VVE: The possible transfer to a new administrator is a major decision. That is why it is important to inform and keep the VVE members informed as much as possible. In practice, there are always members of the VVE who hardly ever concern themselves with VVE matters, but at the same time want good management. It is also necessary to keep them well informed so that they know what is going on.
  5. Submit the termination of the management agreement and the appointment of a new administrator to the VVE meeting: Based on the documentation and possibly the (unsuccessful) improvement process, the reasons for proposing a new administrator can be explained in the VVE meeting. In order to be able to proceed quickly, it is a good idea to vote on the alternative in the same meeting, or in a meeting shortly afterwards.

In case a member of the VVE blocks the decision-making with a majority vote because of links with the administrator or for any other reason, it is possible to submit this to the subdistrict court within 1 month after the VVE meeting.

Would you like to know more?

Contact Ginio Beij (beij@m2advocaten.nl).

1] Subdistrict Court of Amsterdam 28 June 2017 Case no. 5453726 v. EA-VERZ 16-1264 (unpublished)