Squatting is currently a civil offence, meaning the police are unable to take action against squatters and the homeowner has to go to court to prove squatters have trespassed onto their property before they can be evicted, which can take months.
However from 1st September, squatting will be a criminal offence meaning a homeowner can contact the police who, if satisfied that a person has knowingly trespassed into a property and with the intention of squatting, can take action and arrest the squatters. The law will not apply to someone who has fallen behind with their rent or remains in a property at the end of their tenancy agreement.
Theresa said, “I strongly welcome the criminalisation of squatting. I campaigned for this change and I welcome the action the Government is taking to scrap so-called “squatters’ rights.”
“The injustice of the old law and the devastation squatting can cause was really brought home to me when a house in Friern Barnet was invaded by squatters while the owners were away on holiday. The squatters did a huge amount of damage and the owners lost many of their possessions, but the police were unable to take action.”
“The new law will bring the law firmly back on the side of the homeowner and ensure that the police can take robust action against the irresponsible people who wreck homes by squatting.”