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Squatting is now a criminal offence

01 November 2012

Squatting in a residential building became a criminal offence, as of September this year.

There is a maximum prison term of six months and/or fines of up to £5000.

Although this does not help those owning commercial property, the change is designed to speed up the recovery of possession by residential property owners.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Ministry of Justice have published an online guide which, among other things, sets out when owners may call the police to assist in the removal of squatters.

The criminal offence is not retrospective against individuals where the squatting has ceased but it does apply to those who went into occupation before 1 September 2012 and remain in the property now.

As always, if you need commercial and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Nick Southwell BA (Hons)
Senior associate, solicitor
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Nick Southwell, litigator at Willans LLP
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