I went to see the house. (...) The place was a squat—thirty-five heroin addicts were living there. The chaos was palpable. It smelled like dog shit, cat shit, piss. (...) One floor was literally burned—it was nothing but charred floorboards with a toilet sitting in the middle. This place looked terrible.
“How much?” I asked.
Forty thousand guilder, they told me. They clearly just wanted to dump this house. But if you bought it, you were also getting the heroin addicts who were squatting in it, and under Dutch law, it was all but impossible to get them out. For any normal human being to buy this place would be like throwing money out the window. So I said, “Okay, I’m interested.”
I talked about it with my friends. “You’re nuts,” they said. “It’s not money you have—what the hell are you going to do?”
...A drug dealer [had] bought the place. But he didn’t pay the mortgage. And he didn’t pay and he didn’t pay, and finally he was in such financial trouble that he decided to burn the place down for the insurance. Except that the fire was stopped in time and only the one floor was damaged. And then the insurance investigator found that the drug dealer had done it intentionally, and the bank took the house away from him. And this was how it turned into a squat for heroin addicts.
“But where is this guy?” I asked.
“He’s still living in the house,” the neighbor told me.
This house had two entrances. One went to the first floor and the other to the second. The door with the board across it was the entrance to the first floor, where I’d already been; the drug dealer was living on the second floor. So I went around and knocked on the door, and he answered. “I want to talk to you,” I said.
He let me in. There was a table in the middle of the floor, covered with ecstasy, cocaine, hashish, all ready to go into bags. There was a pistol on the table. This guy was bloated—he looked like hell. And suddenly I poured my heart out to him.
I told him everything... I said that this house was what I wanted—all I wanted—the only home I could afford with the little money I had. I was weeping. This guy was standing there with his mouth open.
He stood there looking at me. Then he said, “Okay. But I have a condition.”
“This is my deal. I’ll get everybody out; you’ll get your mortgage. But the moment you sign the contract and get the house, you’re going to sign a contract that I can stay on this floor for the rest of my life. That’s the deal. If you cross me...” He showed me the pistol.
It was in a good neighborhood, where a comparable place would sell for forty to fifty times the price. And [now] it was empty—not a heroin addict in sight. I got a mortgage in less than a week.
But now, since my bank knew the house was empty, Dutch law gave them the right to buy the house for themselves. So I went back to the drug dealer and said, “Can we get some addicts back into the place? Because it’s too good now.”
“How many you want?” he asked.
“About twelve,” I said.
“No problem,” he said. He got twelve addicts back. I took curtains I found in a dumpster and put them on the windows. Then I scattered some more debris around the place. Now all I had to do was wait. My contract signing was two weeks away—it was the longest two weeks in my life. Finally the day came... and I walked into the bank.
The atmosphere was very serious. One of the bankers looked at me and said, “I heard that the unwanted tenants have left the house.”
I just looked at him very coolly and said, “Yeah, some left.”
He cleared his throat and said, “Sign here.” I signed. “Congratulations,” the banker said. “You’re the owner of the house.”
I looked at him and said, “You know what? Actually everybody left the house.”
He looked back at me and said, “My dear girl, if this is true, you have just made the best real-estate deal I’ve heard of in my twenty-five-year career.