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Standing up to squatters

A new crime of squatting was proposed in July by Justice Minister Crispin Blunt.

Making squatting a criminal offence, sending persistent offenders to prison and abolishing so-called 'squatters rights' are among a range of proposals set out in a government consultation aimed at tackling the problem of squatting for both home and business owners.

Speaking in July, Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said: “Far too many people have to endure the misery, expense and incredible hassle of removing squatters from their property. Hard working home and business owners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first.”

The consultation, titled Options for dealing with squatting, sets out for discussion a number of plans to better protect home and business owners. These include:

  • Introducing a new criminal offence of squatting, which could result in a prison sentence for the most persistent offenders;
  • Abolishing so called ‘squatters’ rights’ which prevent legitimate occupiers of commercial property from using force to re-enter their properties if they have been occupied by squatters;
  • Expanding existing offences so that business property owners have the same level of protection as displaced homeowners; and
  • Working with the enforcement authorities to help ensure squatters are prosecuted for any other offences they commit – for example criminal damage, burglary or using electricity without permission.

The consultation paper, which calls for responses by 5 October, asks for the public’s views on a range options for overhauling outdated laws, some of which date back to the 1970s.

The consultation paper can be read in full at www.justice.gov.uk

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