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Squatting

Just a reminder to all that from tomorrow squatting will become a criminal offence under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. This Act applies to residential property only. It applies to someone who has entered a residential building as a trespasser, and not to a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building). If you believe your property contains squatters you should contact the police who have the powers to arrest anyone committing an offence.

It is yet to be seen how individual police forces apply this law but it is understood that the Metropolitan Police are briefed and ready to take action. We will in due course be posting a more in depth article but for further advice please contact us.

3 Comments

  • John Childs 31st August 2012 at 10:43 am

    This should ease the Worry for Landlords. The costs of evicting Squatters and making good the damage to Property and the Services can be enormous can be very high. The concern to neighbours by the presence of poorly behaved Squatters is now hopefully alleviated. Lets hope that the Legislation really does work.

  • Trevor 2nd September 2012 at 9:39 am

    You make it sound very easy! The Police are not going to arrest squatters on the evidence of hearsay. The County Court Bailiffs are under the impression, the current procedure of judgement and issue of warrant of possession are still required.
    The only difference being if squatters are in residence at the time of possession, the policee will now be called for a criminal act, rather than to prevent a breach of peace.

    • PainSmith 4th September 2012 at 2:24 pm

      Indeed, the police will need to test any evidence and be clear. We think some quarters hope that just having the police begin investigating may encourage squatters to up and leave without the need for civil proceedings. Bearing in mind it was already an offence to refuse to leave when asked to do so by a “displaced residential occupier” or “protected intending occupier” ( section 7 Criminal Law Act 1977), and the police quite often refused to act even when holiday makers returned to find their home squatted, it will be interesting to see how this new legislation will change things.

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