Squatting to be criminalised

mark mark at scraprecords.com
Fri Mar 18 10:44:42 GMT 2011




Squatting is to be a crime: Police will be able to turf out intruders


By Jack Doyle

Last updated at 9:21 AM on 18th March 2011

Comments (98) 

Add to My Stories 


The era of squatters’ rights is to end, the Daily Mail can reveal. 


Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke is to scrap existing ‘soft touch’ laws and
make occupying a private property illegally a criminal offence.


It will mean the police can enter a property by force and evict the
occupants within days. 


Trashed: Squatters gather in a Highgate home and destroy the room 


Not any more you don't: Squatters who besieged Guy Ritchie's home in
Fitzrovia will face tougher laws for intruding 


Offenders will face prosecution and even a jail term if found guilty. In
Scotland, where squatting is already illegal, they can be jailed for 21


Thousands of properties every year are ‘taken hostage’ by gangs of
aggressive squatters, but homeowners and landlords complain they are
powerless to take them back. 


Astonishingly, property owners can even face criminal prosecution themselves
simply for forcing their way back into their own homes. 


Landlords’ groups and MPs have long called for a change to the practically
non-existent squatting laws. A senior Whitehall source said making the
changes was now an ‘urgent priority’, as Mr Clarke seeks to end the
nightmare of homeowners being locked out of their own properties.


The source said: ‘Ken has had enough of seeing homeowners battle to get
squatters out.


‘He is determined to use the full force of the law to save people from the
nightmare of having to fight to get their houses back. The days of
squatters’ rights will be over.’ 


It is thought there may be up to 10,000 active squatters in England and
Wales, who often move between properties with impunity. 


As the law stands, staying in the house is not a criminal offence but a
breach of the civil law, meaning a court order is required to remove them.
Getting one can cost thousands of pounds, and take months. 


Even if squatters break in, it is notoriously difficult to prove an offence
has been committed. 


By making squatting a crime, as it is in Scotland, ministers hope removals
will become swift and effective. North of the border, the problem is much
less prevalent. 


It could also allow the police to track ‘lifestyle squatters’ who hop
between houses.


Should squatters be jailed?





Often the squatters move in to take advantage of multi-million pound
properties which are empty while being renovated.


A Mail investigation earlier this month found an ‘estate agency for
squatters’ listing empty properties across London.


The Advisory Service for Squatters operates out of the third floor of a
building in East London and advertises the details of scores of empty homes.


It also publishes the Squatters Handbook which details how to take advantage
of the law and even how to take apart a lock. 


The dozens of websites for squatters advise using Section 6 (1) of the
Criminal Law Act 1977, which was designed to protect tenants from aggressive
and unscrupulous landlords but has become a ‘squatters’ charter’.


Squatters can also obtain legal aid to help them fight their battles, while
homeowners can be crippled by legal costs. 


Often squatters post notices on the door warning of the action they will
take if anyone tries to get in. Astonishingly, if they manage to resist
attempts to evict them for ten years, they can claim ownership. 


Legal figures suggest squatting court cases are becoming more commonplace,
but most cases never even make it to court, because the intruders move on at
the 11th hour.


Businesswoman Dy Maurice, 51, lost her savings of £50,000 in a 15-month
battle to evict a squatter from her home in Macclesfield, Cheshire. 


She rented out the mews property after moving abroad to run a beauty salon,
but it was sub-let by the tenant to a squatter who refused to pay rent. 


Her life then fell apart as she tried to evict him. She finally won a court
order in August 2008 to have the man evicted, but he refused and it took
another month to send in bailiffs.




Description: crowlogosmall



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://mailman.gn.apc.org/mailman/private/diggers350/attachments/20110318/fe683522/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/x-ygp-stripped
Size: 126 bytes
Desc: not available
URL: <https://mailman.gn.apc.org/mailman/private/diggers350/attachments/20110318/fe683522/attachment.bin>

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list