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squatting becomes a criminal offence

On 1 september 2012 the new offence of squatting in a residential building came into force.  To date homeowners have had to pursue civil remedies to remove squatters, which can be costly and time consuming.  Under the new law a homeowner can make a complaint to the police who will have the power to arrest and remove squatters if they believe an offence has been committed.

The offence, under section 144 of the Legal Aid, sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, is committed when:-

a.  a person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as such;

b.  the person knows or ought to know that they are a trespasser; and

c.  the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.

section 144(8) of the Act amends section 17 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) to give uniformed police officers the power to enter and search premises for the purpose of arresting a person for the offence of squatting in a residential building.

The new offence can only be tried in the Magistrates' Court and carries a maximum sentence of six months' imprisonment, a fine or both


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Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice.