Abolition Of Squatters Rights Depends Upon Definition Of 'Squatter' Says Property Lawyer

p>Elaine Dobson, property partner at Bircham Dyson Bell LLP welcomes the Governments plans to make squatting a criminal offence. Under English law squatting is only unlawful and that is a civil law offence but it is not illegal.

The Government's actions, if passed into law, will bring England and Wales into line with Scotland where squatting has been a criminal offence since the 1800s. Further an owner will not have to endure lengthy, costly legal battles by home owners to evict them from their homes and also a repair bill which can run into the tens of thousands of pounds.

"Currently, squatters must only have gained access via an open door or window and not have forced their way into a property to be deemed a squatter," explains Elaine Dobson.

"Justice Secretary Ken Clarke needs to be clearer; he suggests that those who 'force' their way into empty properties will face a prison sentence if squatters' rights are revoked. However, the squatters bible ensures that any person considering squatting , should not when they gain entry, cause criminal damage. We have heard on at least a couple of occasions that squatters have posed as prospective tenants and or buyers and left windows unlocked or partly open when they have been escorted around the house. Further most squatters gain access when property owners have had...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT