In 2012 there was a change in legislation in the UK that made it illegal to trespass or squat in someone’s property, the law has helped a lot of home owners, but also hurt a lot of homeless people. In this article we will have a brief look at the change in the law and how to protect yourself from squatters:
Prior to the change in the law in 2012, it wasn’t illegal to occupy an empty residential property without permission, known as squatting. The law made it illegal in residential cases for example, where tenants were refusing to pay rent or people had broken into unoccupied properties, so squatters could be evicted however, the law does not apply to non-residential buildings or people who were previously tenants at the property or previously had some right to the property, which means you can still be a victim of squatting.
For example, if you rent a property to someone, if they return to that property if unoccupied and began living there, the law would not help you in evicting them. This is why if you are renting a property you must include a clause regarding squatting as this is the only legal way to cover yourself.
The change in law can be argued from both sides. No one would want someone to trespass and occupy their property, and there should never have been an option for people to do so however, for disused buildings non-residential buildings, you can argue that for homeless people who are merely looking for somewhere to sleep who aren’t causing any damage to the property, are not causing any detriment to anyone.
The majority of squatters don’t choose to be in that situation, they are homeless and looking for a place to sleep at night. On the other hand, there are some people who do opt to join the squatting community as they see it is a means of free “self-sufficient” living.
If leaving your property for a period of time, it is very important to ensure it is secured as much as possible to ensure no trespassers can enter. This includes all windows, doors and other means of entry. Ask a neighbour or family member to regularly check up on the property, perhaps set timers on your lights to give the impression that someone is home to deter any potential thieves or squatters.