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Shift on squatters

29 June 2011

The Prime Minister David Cameron on 23rd June 2011 set out the Coalition government’s plans for sentencing reforms which includes a proposal and brief consultation on a criminal offence of squatting which will be introduced in a forthcoming criminal justice bill.

There had been concerns that the proposal, announced in March this year, to change squatting from a civil to a criminal offence would be dropped as part of the Ministry of Justice’s cost-cutting measures.

But Cameron said in a press briefing: “Anyone who’s had squatters in their property will know how incredibly difficult it is to get them out, so we are proposing and will briefly consult on a criminal offence of squatting.”

Mark Cosh, European director at vacant property management specialists SitexOrbis, responded: “The announcement that squatting is to be changed from a civil to a criminal offence is excellent news for facilities and property managers. It will make it easier for commercial property landlords and housing associations to evict the estimated 20,000 squatters in the UK as the police can be involved at an early stage. Currently property owners have to go through the process of obtaining eviction through the civil law process which takes considerably longer.”

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