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New UK law criminalises squatting, offenders to serve jail time

Written on:August 31, 2023
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Mike Weatherley – The man behind the anti-squatting law

UK government has cracked the whip on squatting. The new law shuts the doors for squatters and makes them eligible to criminal prosecution. The law was implemented after last summer discussions.

The maximum punishment for squatting will be six months in jail, a financial reprimand of £5,000, or both. The new law will transform into action by September 1, 2012. The Ministers suggested that the new law would protect the rights of the legal tenants and home owners.

The incorporation of the law will also protect vacant residential properties, a popular hunting ground for squatters.

In London, a group called the Advisory Service for Squatters operates a volunteer service for the assistance of the squatters. The campaigners fighting for the rights of squatters have warned the government that the new law will instigate criminal behaviour from the squatters.

The homeless charity, Crisis asked the government to correct the consequences which lead to squatting. Leslie Morphy, chief executive of the homeless charity Crisis said: “It will do nothing to address the underlying reasons why vulnerable people squat in the first place - their homelessness and a lack of affordable housing.”

Squatting has been a widespread problem in the UK since the English Civil War. The London police has initiated the pasting of notices on the properties which are frequented by squatters.

The Justice minister, Crispin Blunt was harsh about his views on the rights of squatters and the problem of squatting. He said, “For too long, squatters have had the justice system on the run and have caused home owners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. Not any more. Hard-working home owners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first - this new offence will ensure the police and other agencies can take quick and decisive action to deal with the misery of squatting.”

The charity organisations have stated their concerns about the timing of the implementation of the law, as the prices of properties are increasing.

The new law is also being called Weatherley’s Law, since the Conservative MP Mike Weatherley was the person who proposed the anti-squatting law in March,2011.

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