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Foreword from the response PDF:

Ministerial colleagues and I are very concerned about the harm that squatters can cause. I have been contacted time and time again by MPs and constituents about the appalling impact that squatting can have on their homes, businesses and local communities. This is not media hype. It can and does really happen; and when it does it can be highly stressful for the owner or lawful occupier of the property concerned.

It is not only the cost and length of time it takes to evict squatters that angers property owners; it is also the cost of the cleaning and repair bill which follows eviction. While the property owner might literally be left picking up the pieces, the squatters have gone on their way, possibly to squat in somebody else’s property.

I accept that the law already provides a degree of protection for both commercial and residential property owners as offences such as criminal damage and burglary may apply in certain circumstances. There is also an offence under section 7 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 that applies where a trespasser fails to leave residential premises on being required to do so by or on behalf of a “displaced residential occupier” or a “protected intending occupier”. This offence means that people who have effectively been made homeless as a result of occupation of their properties by squatters can already call the police to report an offence.

But there are many residential property owners, including landlords, local authorities and second home owners, who cannot be classified as ‘displaced residential occupiers’ or ‘protected intending occupiers’. There are also many commercial property owners, whose businesses may seriously be affected by squatters, who report that they generally have to rely on civil procedures to get squatters to leave.

Given the level of public concern about this issue, the Government has decided as a first step to introduce a new offence of squatting in residential buildings. The offence would be committed where a person was in the building as a trespasser having entered as such, knew or ought to have known he or she was a trespasser, and was living or intending to live in the building.

Stopping short of criminalising squatting in non-residential buildings represents a balanced compromise. Squatters who occupy genuinely abandoned or dilapidated non-residential buildings will not be committing the new offence, although their actions will rightly continue to be treated as a civil wrong and they can still be prosecuted for offences such as criminal damage or burglary. Neither will students who occupy academic buildings or workers who stage sit-ins to protest against an employer be caught by the offence. But the offence will provide greater protection in circumstances where the harm caused is the greatest – squatting in someone’s home. This behaviour is unacceptable and must be stopped.

I recognise that homelessness charities may be concerned about the impact such an offence may have on vulnerable, homeless people who squat in rundown residential properties. One of the reasons they remain in this state is that owners cannot get in to renovate them because squatters are present. And consultation responses indicated that squats can be unhygienic and dangerous places to live and are no place for genuinely vulnerable people. We will ensure that reforms in this area are handled sensitively in conjunction with wider government initiatives to tackle the root causes of homelessness, to provide affordable homes and to bring more empty homes back into use.

Crispin Blunt

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Will read the whole thing later, but looking at the number of responses it seems that the general public are 136 to 25 in support of squatters' rights (p9).

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I know a few squatters and they squat in order to set up social centres which would otherwise be impossible without financial assistance to pay the rent (which always comes with a variety of conditions). Usually they strike a deal with the landlord of empty properties because they take such good care of them.

I'm not denying the existance of junky squatters, but getting rid of squatters rights won't get rid of their sort, they spend all day breaking the law, what does one more matter to them?

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  • 415 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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