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Enforcing the new squatting offence

As the first arrests are taking place under new anti-squatting laws Lucy McCormick assesses the reach of the new offence

18 September 2012

Squatting became a criminal offence on 1 September 2012, with persons found guilty of occupying a residential property without the owner’s permission facing up to six months in prison and/or a £5,000 fine.

This, at any rate, is how the new provisions introduced by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act have been reported. Because squatting was already a criminal offence – and has been since 1977.

The Criminal Law Act 1977 section 7 made it an offence for a person who has entered residential premises as a trespasser to refuse to leave when required to do so by a ‘displaced residential occupier’ or a ‘protected intending occ...

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