Squatters rights scrapped

Posted: 31/08/2012

From the first of September, squatters will face penalties for squatting in residential buildings but not commercial buildings. Ministers have made this move in order to protect home owners from the trouble squatters cause when living without permission in a vacant house.

If a squatter is found living in a residential property in England and Wales, they could face a 6 month prison sentence, £5,000 fine or both. The new law was discussed by the Government in 2011 but has been highly criticised by homeless charity Crisis, who warned that criminalising squatting will lead to more homeless people living on the streets.

Crisis also state that the new law leaves squatters very vulnerable and that ‘the Government needs to tackle why homeless people squat in the first place by helping them not punishing them.’ The charity claims that there are already legal provisions in place to help home owners deal with squatters and that there are 720,000 empty homes in England where many squatter could live without causing any trouble.

The Government replied, ‘Hard working home owners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first.’ The housing minister Grant Shapps also spoke about the new laws and stated, ‘no longer will there be so called ‘squatters rights’ and that entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence.’ He continued to state that the Government are making the law 'crystal clear’.

What problems do you foresee when this law comes into effect tomorrow? How do you think squatters can pay a fine of £5,000 when they are homeless because they have no money? Perhaps some squatters will continue to break the law in the hope of imprisonment? They may see it as 6 months with a roof over their head, a bed to sleep on and meals in the stomachs every morning and evening.

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(0) Comments squatters, housing, homeless, Government, charity
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