In 2012 the British government introduced a controversial law to protect residential property owners. The new law, Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, criminalises the act of squatting in a residential building and holds a financial penalty of up to £5,000 and up to a year in prison. Beforehand, it was only considered a criminal offence if criminal damage was caused within the residential property by the squatter.
However, this newly introduced law does not protect commercial property’s. While it is still considered illegal to cause criminal damage within a commercial property; it is not an illegal offence to squat in a property being used for commercial reasons.
However, the British government are now under growing pressure to expand the new law to protect commercial property’s as well as residential property’s. The reason? Many local authorities have seen a decrease in the number of squatters within residential buildings; however, the new law has also caused a increase in the number squatters within commercial property’s. Calling into question the overall success of this new law.
For clarification: it is illegal to squat in a residential property (with or without causing criminal damage). However, it is legal to squat within a commercial property (unless criminal damage is caused). Although, the current squatters rights and property owners rights are still taken into consideration.
Ashton Hudson, Online Marketing Executive