It looks like the Squatters Rights have at last come to an end. On 1st September the catchy statutory order – “Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act” comes into force.
From 1st September it will become a criminal offence to squat – and offenders face a 51 week prison sentence (a sort of legal squat if you like) or a £5,000 fine.
It isn’t clear yet just how this will work. My experience of squatters is that the Police simply don’t want to get involved. They just point you in the direction of the slow, expensive and procedure-ridden Court system. Hopefully this will change.
But there may be a side-effect of this.
The new law only applies to residential property – not commercial. These people (I’m being kind – as the one’s I have ‘met’ have been just above single-cell organisms) do not have homes. They need to sleep somewhere. So they are likely to turn their attention to commercial properties – factories, offices and shops. Will we see our High Streets turned into squats? Probably? Not quite what Mary Portas had in mind?
The Government need to make squatting illegal. These ‘people’ illegally occupy other people’s property. It doesn’t matter what the property is – or whether it is empty.
A good starter for 10. But the job isn’t done yet.