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Royal Assent for criminal offence of squatting in a residential property

8 May 2012

1 May 2012 marked the day in which the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 received Royal Assent. Section 144 of the Act has created a new offence of squatting in a residential building.

A person commits an offence if:
  1. They are in a residential building as a trespasser, having entered it as a trespasser
  2. Knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
  3. Is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.

An offence will not be committed by a person 'holding over' after the end of a lease or licence.
The new offence could see squatters face up to 6 months imprisonment or up to a £5,000 fine.
It is inevitable that the offence will be up for debate as to what actions constitute the offence and more importantly, the cost implications the law will have on taxpayers… watch this space!

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