According to research conducted and recently published by the University of Groningen, some 100,000 Dutch folks are guilty of ‘stealing’ (‘encroaching on’) municipal ground when they build extensions to their gardens, driveways and houses.
The research looked at five municipalities: four of them had folks doing some serious encroachment, on average 20 to 40 square metres, with a few whoppers of more than 400 square metres.
When the city comes asking for its ground back, it often leads to court cases and claims that there’s a statute of limitations, with people getting away with the ‘theft’. The idea is to modify the law, so that cities can ask for their land back at any time, which I imagine would deter people from stealing it in the first place. In the case of an entire house partially built on municipal ground, that’s going to be difficult to rectify.