Squatting has a long history in the UK, with numerous documentations of the phenomenon. From the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the Second World War, squatting has been undertaken for many reasons.
But the term has hit the headlines recently as the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling mulls over making squatting in commercial properties illegal. A law making squatting in residential properties illegal has already come into effect, prompting many commercial property owners to call for the law to be extended to all property types.
The issue of squatting is one that some of our unoccupied property insurance customers may have faced, but the law differs according to where a property is in the UK. Below is a summary of residential squatting laws.
England: Squatting is a criminal offence under Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, having come into effect on 1st of September. Punishable with a fine of 5,000 GBP or imprisonment, or both.
Scotland: Squatters in Scotland also risk fine or imprisonment, and have been so since the Trespass (Scotland) Act 1865. Owners can evict squatters without notice and without a court eviction order – but cannot break the law whilst doing so (e.g. commit a violent act).
Wales: Squatting in residential buildings in Wales became illegal at the same time as it did in England. Squatting is at its highest levels for 40 years, according to a report by the UK Bailiff Company in 2010.
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