New laws scrap ‘squatters rights’

New laws scrap ‘squatters rights’

10:03 AM, 31st August 2012, About 9 years ago 25

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Ban Squatters RightsWhat are your thoughts on the new laws scrapping squatters rights and making squatting a criminal offence?

Squatting in residential property in England and Wales becomes a criminal offence on Saturday 1st September 2012. Under clause 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, the offence of squatting will be punishable by up to six months’ jail and fines up to £5,000 in England and Wales.

20,000 squatters in England and Wales now face eviction as Police prepare to enforce this change in the law which criminalises those occupying residential buildings without a valid tenancy.

Phil Gormley, chief constable of Norfolk who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) on uniformed operations, said: “We can now act immediately and remove squatters directly from properties in line with the new legislation and ensure people’s homes are protected.”

Housing Minister Grant Shapps seems to disagree with the housing charities. He is quoted as saying “No longer will there be so-called ‘squatters rights’. Hard-working homeowners 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. We’re tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner and making the law crystal clear: entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence. By making this change, we can slam shut the door on squatters once and for all.”

Justice minister Crispin Blunt said: “For too long, squatters have had the justice system on the run and have caused homeowners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. Not any more.”

Mark Alexander, founder of Property118 warns that commercial landlords are not protected by the new laws and raises the question “given that the news laws only make it illegal to squat in residential properties does this mean that commercial landlords with empty properties are likely to bear the brunt of the fall out?”

Left wing Housing Charities have been quick to jump on the media bandwagon by claiming the news laws will increase homelessness. QUESTION – are squatters not technically homeless anyway?

Leslie Morley, Chief executive of housing charity Crisis made a very interesting point though when she said “”Ultimately the Government needs to tackle why homeless people squat in the first place by helping not punishing them.”

Readers of Property118 will be very much aware of why the problems exist, will it get worse though with the proposed changes to the benefits system?

UPDATE

New information added >>> HERE



Comments

by Mary Latham

18:16 PM, 1st September 2012, About 9 years ago

This new legislation does not change Sections 8 and 21 of the Housing Act 1988 and
it will not help landlords who have non- paying tenants. What it will do help
us with is the situation when a tenant(s) return to a property after they have been legally evicted by a
Court appointed Bailiff. Many unsuspecting landlords forget to check that
windows are locked following eviction and many tenants leave those windows
unlocked so that they have easy access to re-enter after eviction. These people will now be covered by this
legislation.

In my opinion we are now one tiny step closer to the
recognition that property owners have a right to choose who enters our
properties. Until now the law has not even recognised that “an Englishman’s
home is his castle” and if a homeowner could not remove unwanted visitors what
chance did landlords have? I have no problem with tenants right to “be heard”
by the Court when a landlord is using Section8 and accusing them of a breach of
the Tenancy. It takes far too long to actually get into Court in the first
place and that is the weakness of this legislation for landlords. When we are
using Section 21 (the no fault process of eviction) we need the law to recognise
that landlords have a right to repossess our properties, we were given that
right in the Housing Act 1988 and it was this change in legislation that gave
many people the courage to become landlords. The reality is that the legal
system has made Section 21 toothless.

I hear so many cases
where the Judge throws out a properly served, correctly complete S21 Notice
simply because the tenant says that he did not receive the Notice – recently I
heard one where the landlord had proof of posting from 2 separate Post Offices
(as laid down in the legislation) and yet the Judge told the landlord to come
back in 3 months. Another one earlier this year where the Tenant produced a
photocopy of the AST showing that the term of the tenancy was 12 months not the
6 months that was stated on the original copy that the landlord produce –
signed by the landlord and the tenant! The Judge in this case told the Landlord
to seek legal advice and come back to court. This delayed the hearing by 3
months.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the Possession
legislation but there IS something fundamentally wrong with the attitude of the
Courts towards a landlords right to repossess his property providing he has
fully complied with the law. May be I am
being overly optimistic in hoping that this new legislation will help to bring
about a change of attitude to landlords rights? I certainly hope not because
more homeless people, as a result of this legislation, will mean an even greater
need for people to have the courage to invest in properties to rent.
Follow me on Twitter @landlordtweets

by

19:18 PM, 1st September 2012, About 9 years ago

about time !!

this is certainly a step in the right direction. but not far enough.

in order for a squatter to have 'rights ' somebody else must ultimately be made homeless.
and invariably that is the home owner.

the next step is to make theft of accommodation as illegal as stealing a car.
that means a tenant not paying rent when due becomes the act of " theft of accommodation ".

and we should lobby our MPs and Grant Shapps as individuals and as a body of landlords to make this happen.

there is no reason nor excuse as there is a fail-safe mechanism for all tenants.
Housing Benefit.

by Mark Alexander

20:23 PM, 1st September 2012, About 9 years ago

Superb post Mary 🙂

by

0:56 AM, 2nd September 2012, About 9 years ago

I think we need to change things round so that the tenant has to disprove what a LL has done rather than the LL having to prove what he has done.
Let's face it most LL will issue a Section 21 on time.
Quite frankly a few days either side, what is the difference.
Judges should defer to the LL that what he has done is correct and he should present proof that he has done so.
After all if a LL is trying to recover possession of the property he is hardly going to lie.
He knows the importance of correct paperwork.
The sanction against LL is if a tenant can prove that say rent was paid and eviction occurs on that basis then the LL could be up on contempt of court and perjury.
Not offences that a LL would disregard lightly!!
I am afraid that your optimism will NOT be borne out.
To make it easier for LL to recover their properties will just cause more fast tracking of people becoming homeless.
From a tenant not paying rent can take 10 months to evict.
That is 10 months that the council don't have to rehouse, and face possible higher TA costs.
It is not in councils or govts interests to assist to facilitate easier possession for private LL to their properties.
But yes brilliant post, encapsulates the issues the PRS is facing re getting access to your own property.

by

1:11 AM, 2nd September 2012, About 9 years ago

I would say that rather than stating it is theft, a tenant if they don't pay rent automatically becomes a squatter.
Squatters don't pay rent.
What is the difference.
Just because someone has a piece of paper advising they have rights of ocupation; that only applies if they pay for the service.
Should be no rent, you become a squatter, so leave or be prosecuted.
That would concentrate a few minds.
They would not wanting to risk being criminalised.
Perhaps then they wouldn't spend the LHA on drink, drugs and the betting shop.
After all life is a lot more bearable if you are in accommodation; even if you are cold and starving as the choice is to be cold and starving but out on the street.
So DON'T spend your LHA on anything other than rent.
Make sure your LL gets his rent or bye, bye onto the street with you.
Life is all about choicies!
There is always a chance to get down to a foodbank and then wrap up in a warm duvet.
Or you can spend your LHA on things other than rent and be on the street...............CHOICIES..up to you!!


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