Squatters in residential buildings to be criminalised

09-01-2012 10:27

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) has recently published a response to a consultation on squatters in residential buildings. The purpose of the consultation was to gather information on the extent of squatting in the country and consider how to improve the mechanisms to deal with squatting.

The result of the MOJ consultation is the proposed creation of a criminal offence of squatting in residential properties.

The MOJ intend to introduce new measures whereby a criminal offence will be committed where all of the following occur:

  • The squatter is in a residential building as a trespasser and entered the building as a trespasser
  • The squatter knew or ought to have known that they were a trespasser
  • The squatter is living in the building or intends to live there for any  period of time

As a result of the three conditions above, only squatters will be caught by the offence as the offence will not cover for example genuine tenants that have previously occupied the building with the landlord’s consent that have had a disagreement and refused to leave.

However, the new offence will certainly target homeless people and several charities and supporters are concerned that criminalising squatting will increase the amount of people that are forced to sleep rough on the streets. In opposition to these arguments, some commercial property owners do not think that new criminal measures will go far enough and are disappointed that the new measures will not extend to squatters in commercial properties.

If you would like any more information on this topic please contact Amanda O’Mahony: amanda.omahony@spw-law.co.uk

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