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Squatting set to be criminalised

Squatters could be jailed from September 1

The act of squatting in a property will be made a criminal one on September 1. Consequently anyone found to have broken this law could face a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail or a £6,000  fine, or both. Government ministers insist this is a measure to “slam shut the door on squatters once and for all.”

The significant aspect of the change is that currently squatting is a civil issue. In practice this means that any homeowner, including a council or housing association must take the squatters to a civil court and prove they have trespassed illegally in order to have them evicted.

This process will no longer be necessary as a property owner will just have to call the police who, if satisfied an offence has been commited can immediately arrest the squatters. The law will not apply to people who fall behind with their rent or stay on in a home after their tenancy has come to an end.

What do you think of the change to the law? Is it due protection for the homeowner or an afront to traditional rights?

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