Squatters – again!!

Squatters – again!!

9:15 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago 14

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Hello, can’t believe it – this is the second time we’ve had squatters move into one of our vacant rentals in Luton. The last time we agreed to pay a huge sum to the new owner of a property we sold, so we could walk away and leave the issue for him to deal with.

This time, at a different empty property, a tradesman phoned to ask if we still wanted him to carry out the improvement works, as there were people in the ‘empty’ property. They had smashed the key safe to access the keys, then let themselves in. I called the police who agreed to attend because there was criminal damage, but advised that they couldn’t deal with the squatters because ‘squatting is a civil matter’.

I pointed out that squatting in residential premises has been illegal for many years. An officer did attend, the following morning and got no response when knocking on the front door. I was subsequently told that they wouldn’t attend again owing to other more urgent jobs.

So, after 25+ years of landlording, we’ve had enough! This property will be the next one we sell. We welcome all (legal) suggestions to resolve this issue.

The way we see it is to either sell below market with the squatters, or go down the legal route and use bailiffs. Problem with the latter is that we could get rid of one lot of squatters and have more move in the next day.
Does anyone know of any Property Guardians who would move into the property on a temporary basis until sold? This would be on a License not an AST. It’s a 3 bed, 2 reception, C rated EPC, mid terrace property in Luton. New roof with a long warranty.

Thanks,

Pete


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Comments

Reluctant Landlord

10:04 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

my advice? Dont look at the legal routes at all. Hire a 'team' - go in early am, and get them out asap. Set off fumigation cannisters and relock the doors. Perhaps board up the front and back door completely? Employ a dog team to watch the property for a week while you detemine what to do.

Cany you really see a squatter going to court for 'illegal eviction' when you have alrady had the police round to show there has been criminal damage to enter in the first place?

Freda Blogs

10:16 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Beware of the 'guardian' solution - it may not be an answer for you. I am not sure exactly where things lie legally at the moment (as legal decisions may have been overturned), so do your research first, as there have been recent cases fought by big guardian firms where it has been determined that occupiers are not licensees, but have ASTs.

If this has been the determination in large commercial blocks, I suspect your chance of claiming licensees in a dwelling house would be very slim indeed. If they are deemed to have ASTs you would then be in deep water if you hadn't complied with all the requirements that come with granting an AST.

Reluctant Landlord

10:18 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

another point. If empty then you must be paying council tax. If it is in your name then you can prove you have not let the property to anyone else not given anyone permission of entry etc.
Insurance cover? Call them for advice?

Reluctant Landlord

10:23 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

a quick google states the term 'squatter' only applies if someone who claims a 'right ' of being in a place for over 10 years.
Anyone else who enters a residential premise that is not there is is regarded as tresspasser and therefore it is a criminal issue.

RoseD

10:35 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

I have no experience of this situation and can only imagine how difficult it must be. An 'off the head suggestion' better security measures making it harder for these 'squatters' to gain entry. An alarm system connected to a security firm who will visit (with dogs) within a time frame of alarm going off would be a deterrent. Even CCTV that could identify said intruders might deter. Will cost you but from what you've said you losing money anyway so worth looking into.

Jonathan Willis

11:15 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

The police are in the wrong, as you say, the law changed and is now a criminal matter. The police should search the property and arrest them. That is the law, if they won't comply then reach out to the police commissioner for your area and local MP to inform them the police are refusing to attend a crime in progress.

Julesgflawyer

11:54 AM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Jonathan Willis at 05/10/2023 - 11:15
Section 144 Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 if the police need the reference.

Reluctant Landlord

12:01 PM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

ring up the police again demand action as it is a criminal break in, trespass plus now suspected drug offences, Anti social behavour and theft of gas/electric/water.

Get a crime refence number and let the neighbours know and also get them to ring in. Tell them you also suspect drug dealing. Got a lcoal neighbourhood Watch? Alert them too.
Make it diffucult so the Police have to do something.

Reluctant Landlord

12:03 PM, 5th October 2023, About 9 months ago

better still get the water, elec and gas cut off by your supplier as a temporary measure. You might still have to pay for the standing charges but for any use.

Without all this they may just bugger off fast

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