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Squatting to be a criminal offence from 1 September, 2012

Date: (31 August 2012)    |    

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From September 1, 2012 the rights of squatters would be scrapped and a new law would take over where anyone invading private homes would face six months in jail.

The police until now were helpless from evicting squatters as soon as they moved in due to the civil nature of the issue and the home owner’s had to get a civil court order to get the squatters evicted which was time consuming, expensive and stressful.

Making the invasion a criminal offence which carries a prison sentence, a £5,000 fine or both had followed after a Government consultation last summer which means police can arrest squatters immediately.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said no longer will there be so-called "squatters’ rights.
He added that the scales had now been tipped back in favour of the homeowner and law was made crystal clear that entering a property with the intention of squatting would be a criminal offence.
Justice minister Crispin Blunt said the squatters had taken the justice system for a run for too long, and have caused homeowners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. Not anymore
He added that hard-working homeowners needed and deserved a justice system where their rights came first, this new offence was introduced to ensure the police and other agencies could take quick and decisive action to deal with the misery of squatting.
Chief Constable Phil Gormley, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, said the police can now act immediately and remove squatters directly from properties in line with the new legislation and ensure people's homes are protected.
The new offence will protect homeowners or legitimate tenants who have been excluded from their homes.
The law would also give protection to owners who own residential building which they don’t live in such as landlords, local authorities or second home owners.
But homeless charity Crisis was critical about the law saying that the new law would make criminals out of vulnerable people, leaving them in prison or facing a fine they cannot afford.
The charity’s chief executive said that it also misses the point.
There was already legal provision in place which the police and councils could, and should, have used to remove individuals in the rare instances of squatting in someone's home.
She went on the criminalising of squatting was not going to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place, their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.
Mr Shapps also launched a clampdown on rogue landlords to bring an end to 'suburban shanty towns' that trap vulnerable people in dangerous living conditions.
He launched new guidance for councils making clear the wide range of powers at their disposal shut down so-called 'beds in sheds' that blight neighbourhoods.