Lawmakers to make squatting illegal in the short term

The parties making up the majority in federal parliament have reached an informal deal to make squatting illegal. House owners will be able to launch a complaint with the police, and judges will be able to decide in a shorter term to have squatters evicted.

Fresh legislation should be approved in parliament before Easter (mid-April). The bills should be finalised in the coming days after the coalition parties Open VLD (Flemish liberals), N-VA (nationalists), CD&V (Christian democrats) and MR (Francophone liberals of Premier Charles Michel) reached a deal.

Procedures will be sped up in future, and squatting will simply become illegal, which means that people can launch an official complaint which will, in its turn, be treated by a judge in the short term. Magistrates will meanwhile have the power to start up a procedure to have the squatters removed.

Until now, squatting was situated in a "grey zone" of the law. Now, it is not easy to have squatters removed as the procedure takes time and effort. This was shown by the case in Ghent, where Roma people invaded a house to occupy it while the owners, a couple, were working in Vietnam.

Police were not authorised to have the squatters removed. Yesterday, after a procedure had been initiated, a judge finally decided that the Roma have to go, but only in two weeks' time.

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