Bum deal for squatters as it becomes a criminal offence

THE MANAGING director of a property management company has supported new laws criminalising squatters saying it is the “right thing” for homeowners across the UK.

Squatting in a residential building in England and Wales becomes a criminal offence on Saturday (Sept 1 ) meaning squatters would face jail or a fine. Government Ministers have said it would offer better protection for homeowners. The maximum penalty will be six months in jail, a �5,000 fine, or both.

“This new law will slam shut the door on squatters once and for all.” said Terry Farthing, the MD of Airport Lettings, based at Stansted Airport.

“At present, we have the ridiculous situation where squatting is treated as a civil matter. That has meant homeowners have had to go to a civil court to prove the squatters have trespassed before they can be evicted from the property.

“From the start of September it will be a criminal matter. That means a homeowner can simply complain to the police who, if satisfied that the claim is genuine, can take action and arrest the squatters.”

The Government has said this week that for too long, hardworking people have faced long legal battles to get their homes back from squatters, and repair bills reaching into the thousands when they finally leave.

Mr Farthing added: “In the current challenging economic environment many individuals and families consider renting out a property but all too often have been put off by the threat of squatting.

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“It is right that the law is now on the side of the homeowner. If someone falls behind with their rent they won’t be kicked out because of this new law but it does mean that we rightfully see an end to so called squatters rights.”