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Squatters rights curtailed

31 August 2012

On 1st September 2012 s.144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 comes into force to create, in certain circumstances, a new offence of squatting in a residential building.

A trespasser commits the offence if they enter residential premises as a trespasser; the person knows or ought to know they are a trespasser and the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.

The new offence will be of limited use to social landlords. For example, if a tenant unlawfully sub-lets the property to another occupant then it is unlikely that the offence will have been committed because the occupants will have entered the property with the consent of the tenant and not as trespassers.

In the cases where s.144 applies, it will be important to have a good line of communication with the police so that when any arrests are made the landlord will be in the locality with a locksmith to re-secure their property.

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