Squatting, a criminal offence

This is an update for the post – Squatters in London Nov 27/2011

Now squatting is a criminal offence.

Good news for private owners but not so good for business owners.

For advice on how to protect your commercial premises from squatters call

Guard Dog Security on 020 86371406

Here are some info about the new law on squatting from the Shelter website.

The criminal law on squatting

Squatting in a residential property is now a criminal offence.

Squatters can be arrested by the police. If convicted by a court, a squatter can be sent to prison for up to 6 months, fined up to £5,000, or both.

You cannot be convicted of squatting if you:

  1. are squatting in commercial premises
  2. are a tenant or licensee remaining in a property after the tenancy or licence has ended
  3. entered the property genuinely believing you were a tenant – for example, if a bogus letting agent rented you a property they had no right to
  4. are a Gypsy or Traveller living on an unauthorised site.

It is illegal to get into a property by breaking in or damaging windows and doors and you could be arrested even if the damage is minimal.

Squatters have a right to be connected to utilities such as gas, electricity and water, but using them without contacting the supplier first is illegal.

How squatters can be evicted

Even if they are not arrested, squatters can be evicted more easily than many other people.

In some cases the person with a right to occupy or live in the property doesn’t have to get a court order first – this applies if you are:

squatting in a property and excluding somebody from their home (a ‘displaced residential occupier’) – for example, if they were on holiday

squatting in a property that somebody is about to move into (a ‘protected intending occupier’), such as a homebuyer or a new tenant.

In either of these cases, if you are squatting and refuse to leave when you are asked to, you can be arrested.

Otherwise, if you are squatting and neither of the situations above applies to you, the owner or landlord will have to get a court order to evict you  – for example, if you are squatting in a property that was run down and needed work to be carried out before it could be sold or rented out.

In most cases the court will automatically give the owner or landlord the right to get back into the property. If you still don’t leave, they can also ask the court bailiffs to evict you and your belongings from the property.

It is illegal to use violence to evict squatters

It is illegal for the owner or landlord to use or threaten you with violence. This is the case even if the owner or landlord has a court order to evict you.

It is illegal for an owner, landlord or tenant to use force, such as breaking down the door, to get into the property while you or another squatter are inside, unless they are a ‘displaced residential occupier’  or a ‘protected intending occupier’.

Source of the news: http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/homelessness/squatting

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11 Responses to Squatting, a criminal offence

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    • Javier says:

      There are, as usual, two side to this problem. On the one hand, stintquag is justified only in the most extreme circumstances, If I found squatters in one of my properties who were unwilling to become paying tenants, I would find non-violent but unpleasant ways to get them out.But on the other hand, 80,000 empty homes across London is an absolute disgrace, which can understandably infuriate people genuinely looking for a home.Moreover, Grant Shapps’ own polices are making the situation worse. The LHA for single people under 35 won’t pay the rent anywhere and will force some out of long-occupied homes.

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  4. Jey says:

    Isn’t this all a bit of scare mongering? Last time I looekd it took a few days to get genuinely unlawful squatters out of a residential property. Is there really anything to be gained by this criminalisation except pandering to the Daily Mail readership?

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