Ex-squaddies to 'squat proof' property for £2 .6K/wk

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Dec 3 14:02:39 GMT 2009

Security firm will protect properties round the clock for £2,600 a week

Peter Dominiczak

Wealthy homeowners are turning to private 
security firms to protect their empty London 
properties from squatters at a cost of up to £2,600 a week.

One company is set to "squat proof" hundreds of 
houses and even offers ways of getting unwanted guests to leave.

It comes after the Standard revealed that 
squatters were regularly targeting properties 
worth up to £50million in Belgravia and Mayfair, 
which are often owned by investors hiding their 
identities behind offshore companies.

According to the Empty Homes Agency there are 
more than 80,000 empty properties in London, or 
2.5 per cent of all homes. A growing number are 
properties bought by foreign investors who want a 
secure asset but continue to live elsewhere.

Forbes Risk, a security company predominantly 
staffed by former members of the armed forces, 
offers a range of "squat proofing" measures which 
they say will turn a potential squat into an 
"inhabited property", making any attempt to enter the property illegal.

For a six-storey Belgravia townhouse, their basic 
package would cost about £1,700. The property 
would be professionally sealed, meaning squatters 
would be unable to gain entry without causing 
criminal damage. A client would have to pay 
around £2,600 per week for 24-hour protection.

Andrew Walker, a director of Forbes Risk, said: 
"We have a lot of wealthy clients who for obvious 
reasons do not want squatters in their 
properties. Squatting, particularly in wealthier 
parts of London, is becoming an epidemic.

"We have some crazy laws in this country and 
squatters are realising just how easy it is to 
get in very expensive homes. We have ways to get 
these people out for our clients."

Last month a group of squatters occupied a house 
doors away from the home of the ex-wife of 
Abramovich and the couple's five children.

"Squatters cause a lot of hassle. Mrs Abramovich, 
for example, has a young family and was 
understandably alarmed," said Mr Walker.

Latest figures from the Empty Homes Agency show 
that the number of empty properties in 
which includes Mayfair, Belgravia and Marylebone, 
stood at 3,584 at the end of last year. At least 
2,512 homes stood empty in 
and Chelsea, 1,654 in 
and 3,627 in Barnet.

David Ireland, chief executive with the Empty 
Homes Agency, said: "Off-shore account owners are 
exploiting a tax loophole. They don't have to pay 
capital gains tax and many of them simply treat 
these properties as an investment and allow them 
to sit empty, never intending to occupy them."

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poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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