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Squatter problems for vacant properties on rise – can new legislations help you?

14 April 2011

With around 100,000 incidents of squatting recorded every year and insurance claims doubled on squatter related issues last year - vacant properties are now very vulnerable to squatters. Don’t ignore the risks - precautions are better than cure, as it costs more to evict squatters than to protect buildings.

The Ministry of Justice is, however, considering making squatting illegal in England and Wales. As it stands, property owners in England and Wales must use the civil courts to enforce their rights against squatters which often results in a costly and lengthy process. Under the new law, Police would be given the power to force entry and arrest anyone occupying a property without the owner’s permission.

Mark Cosh, European director at vacant property management specialists SitexOrbis welcomed the proposed change. “Due to the “relaxed" nature of the law, squatting is seen as being encouraged in England – there are even dedicated squatters websites to advise people. The new legislation will provide more power to police to take action and remove squatters. This will act as deterrent, as even foreign migrants have started to take advantage of the present loopholes.”

As a result, the additional effects of squatting such as vandalism, fire and theft will reduce, Cosh said. “Presently they are draining the resources of the landlords who are forced to leave their vacant properties to rot. With reduced number of squatting, landlords will make fewer insurance claims, save costly civil enforcement bills, and start to think proactively about increasing security.”

The change in law will target those people who squat in both residential and commercial properties. No date of when we can expect this change has been made.

SitexOrbis bespoke security solutions provide a wide range of innovative services in protecting vacant properties. Enhanced security measures needn't be costly. For example, it is important to record pictures/video feed of initial break-ins as this will help in legal procedures at a later stage. SitexOrbis' Videofied Alarms with 24/7 monitoring is a cost-effective solution as compared to the traditional CCTV installations. Videofied is a rapidly deployable and cost-effective visual verification alarm system that can be used anywhere. Short video footage is immediately transmitted to trained operators at the SitexOrbis BS 5979 CAT II Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) where trained operators can summon emergency responses as and when required.

SitexOrbis, in association with Aviva, has developed a 6 point action plan to help landlords deter uninvited guests. Please email your details to info@sitexorbis.com if you need a copy of the booklet.


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