Squatting in somebody’s property or home has
been a criminal offence for a long time, yet only
where there was evidence of forced entry, break in,
burglary or criminal damage. This meant that if squatters
occupied vacant or abandoned properties and were careful
when entering, perhaps via an open window, they weren’t
necessarily breaking the law as puzzling as this may
with this, Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977
also made it a criminal offence to gain entry into
a property by force, if someone who is dwelling there
at the time is opposed to that person entering. So,
if that person living there happened to be a squatter
for instance, the law would still apply, meaning Police
or homeowners were not allowed to forcibly enter their
own premises to remove the squatters.
only legitimate means for a resolution to this situation
was for the owner to start court proceedings to evict
the squatters, which often could take months.
what is the situation now?
As from 1st September 2012 it is now a CRIMINAL offence
to squat in any RESIDENTIAL property under Section
144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of
Offenders Act 2012 “Offence of squatting in
a residential building”, which states
person commits an offence if:
The person is in a residential building as a trespasser
having entered it as a ......trespasser,
The person knows or ought to know that he or she
is a trespasser, and
The person is living in the building or intends
to live there for any period.