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Squatting now a criminal offence in the UK

25 September 2012

In England and Wales from September 1, squatting in a residential building is now a criminal offence. It is estimated that there are up to 50,000 people currently squatting in empty properties across the UK.

The new offence, under clause 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, carries a maximum jail sentence of up to six months, a £5,000 pound fine or both. The move, passed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government, was supported by the opposition Labour Party.

Prior to the introduction of this law, squatting was treated as a civil matter whereby the aggrieved party would have to go to a civil court to prove that squatters have trespassed before they could be evicted. Now treated as a criminal matter, it means that, following a complaint to the police, those considered to be squatting can be arrested.

 

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