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End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 1:57:33 PM   
great_badir


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From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19429936

As someone who has been involved in the nightmare of squatters through some past work dealings, my thought about this news is "about fucking time".

I can't believe people are still defending this deplorable excuse for what is essentially, and 9 times out of 10, outright vandalism. There was quite a famous local story a few years back about a millionaire who went on a long holiday (couple of months if memory serves) and got back to find that her mansion was occupied by squatters. Despite ample evidence and witness reports that they broke in, they claimed a door was left unlocked, so squatter's rights came into play and the woman who owned the property, unbelievably, became a criminal (and was arrested) when she tried to evict them. After several months of trudging through court, she won the case and they were finally evicted, but she was left with a hefty legal bill and thousands of pounds worth of damage to the house. Madness.

Any thoughts to the contrary/does anyone fully support the squatters?

< Message edited by great_badir -- 31/8/2012 1:58:23 PM >


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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 3:54:23 PM   
Le Tenia


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Thankfully never been put in that situation, however if i was, then i would have no hesitation in baseball batting the fuckers!!


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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 6:05:36 PM   
JessFranco


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Very few squatters live in otherwise occupied properties. Most are in houses that have been empty for years. There should certainly be a fast-track process for challenging squatters' rights, but criminalisation is wrong other than in clear-cut cases (where other laws generally come into play).

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 6:08:11 PM   
Woger


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Funnily enough this popped into my head a few days ago, I met some one travelling in Cambodia years ago and he said he was in London and he squatted for a while. The way he went on it seemed liek a bunch of wasters found a property and jsut lived like vagrants. Where does the original right come from?

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 6:30:27 PM   
elab49


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I was genuinely surprised it wasn't illegal - it's trespassing on someone else's property. How can that not be clear-cut? 

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 7:07:04 PM   
JessFranco


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Trespass traditionally hasn't been a criminal matter. There has been a principle in English law going back hundreds of years that unoccupied land is a social ill and that occupation unchallenged for a certain period of time should be allowed to continue.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 7:29:02 PM   
Ghidorah

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: elab49

I was genuinely surprised it wasn't illegal - it's trespassing on someone else's property. How can that not be clear-cut?



The sad fact is trespassing and land grabbing isn't a criminal offence. The only way to combat this is through civil court and the process does take up time and thousands of pounds. There is no short term conclusion and this slow expensive process just enourage misbehaving on a huge scale. A lot of neighbour dispute are related to land and the process is so expensive to sort out, leaving many agressors to get away with it.

This law only benefit a small percentage of those having to deal with trespassers. Why not pass more laws to move on traveling communities quicker or protect land owners against neighbouring bullies.

Edit

Hear is a clip of a woman denying her neighbour his rights of way. The only way for him to sort this out is to go to court and that will cost money. Meanwhile the woman prevents access to his property. There's still no laws to help people against these bullies.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNbbCuJlg4A



< Message edited by Ghidorah -- 31/8/2012 7:55:27 PM >

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 7:39:04 PM   
Dpp1978


Posts: 1160
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Woger

Funnily enough this popped into my head a few days ago, I met some one travelling in Cambodia years ago and he said he was in London and he squatted for a while. The way he went on it seemed liek a bunch of wasters found a property and jsut lived like vagrants. Where does the original right come from?


It is due to how we hold property under English law. The key to understanding it is understanding the concept of possession.

When you own a legal estate in land (freehold or leasehold) you almost always have what is called an absolute title. This means that you have the right to keep anyone else in the world out of your property. There is a lesser type of title than absolute which is called possessory title. That is where you can establish possession of the property, which requires you to have practical control and the intention to possess the property. Generally an ordinary homeowner will maintain possession at all times, but for landlords who have empty properties it can become far more complex.

A person with possessory title has the right to keep out anyone who doesn't have a superior title (usually an absolute title but it is possible for there to be a series of possessory titles which will be ranked by date: the oldest being the most superior and the newest the most inferior). It is possible if a person has maintained possessory title for long enough that they can claim absolute title through a process called adverse possession, although this isn't as easy now as it once was.

So a squatter who shows practical control of the property and the intention to possess the property can only be removed by a person with a superior title to theirs. In practice this will be the person with the absolute title.

S6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 makes it an offence to use violence (against a person or the property itself) to secure entry to a property in the possession of another unless the person gaining entry is a "displaced residential occupier."

This means it is quite easy for a residential owner to regain entry and evict the squatters but more complicated for landlords who haven't taken occupation of the building for themselves.

For them to do this requires a court order and bailiffs to evict the squatters, which takes time and costs money.



< Message edited by Dpp1978 -- 31/8/2012 7:43:42 PM >

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 7:59:29 PM   
Woger


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Thanks. So possession is 9/10's of the law? I can't understand why actual ownership doesn't come into it.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 8:26:09 PM   
Dpp1978


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Woger

Thanks. So possession is 9/10's of the law? I can't understand why actual ownership doesn't come into it.


It does. It is merely that most people have absolutely no idea about how ownership actually works or even what it really is. It isn't something most of us will ever have to think about too deeply.

At no point is the owner deprived of their property: it is legally impossible to steal land. They merely have certain rights over that property temporarily usurped. The owner, that is the person with absolute title to the property, merely has to re-assert their rights and evict the usurper. But they have to adhere to the legal framework.

For a non resident owner this is usually nothing more than proving to the court you have absolute title. The judge will then grant an eviction order. In the vast majority of cases it can be shown by doing a simple search at the land registry and getting a copy of the entry on the register for that address. The bailiffs can then obtain entry and you can assert your right to possession. The order will grant you the right to have the bailiffs forcibly remove the squatters if it becomes necessary.

Of course this is not exactly cheap. You have to pay legal fees, court fees and the bailiff's fees, plus the cost of repairing any damage caused by gaining entry. In theory you could sue the squatters for the cost of doing so but practically speaking it would probably be an exercise in futility.


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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 8:33:09 PM   
sanchia


Posts: 18250
Joined: 3/1/2006
From: Norwich

quote:

ORIGINAL: Dpp1978


For them to do this requires a court order and bailiffs to evict the squatters, which takes time and costs money.




Also remembering that bailiffs have no right of entry to a property without first being given access by those inside (ie those images of bailiffs breaking down doors etc. are not correct). That said I do think a Sheriffs bailiff has more rights than a Court bailiff.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 9:03:35 PM   
Dpp1978


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quote:

ORIGINAL: sanchia

Also remembering that bailiffs have no right of entry to a property without first being given access by those inside (ie those images of bailiffs breaking down doors etc. are not correct). That said I do think a Sheriffs bailiff has more rights than a Court bailiff.


That is certainly the case where the bailiff is recovering a debt, but where there is an legal eviction the order from the court will set a date and time by which the squatters must leave. If they refuse they commit a criminal offence and can be forcibly evicted by the bailiffs, usually with the help of the police. They also face being arrested, fined and potentially sent to prison.


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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 9:43:38 PM   
sanchia


Posts: 18250
Joined: 3/1/2006
From: Norwich
It is the police which have the legal power though and there is a growth in private bailiff firms which are more used by magistrate courts and don't necessarily have the same level of professionalism as the Court bailiffs (which with the way things are going are likely to soon be a thing of the past anyway) .

Sadly there has been a growth in squatters taking over buildings which are the process of being renovated, changing locks etc. and leaving the place in an awful state when finally evicted (which appears to be the rationale behind these laws coming into place) rather than the old style squatters who often took over places which were abandoned and falling into disrepair and often ended up leaving the place in better repair than when they arrived. In many ways (from what I have read) squats used to be almost communes and those squatting had a good relationship with the local community.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 31/8/2012 10:19:31 PM   
Dpp1978


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quote:

ORIGINAL: sanchia

It is the police which have the legal power though and there is a growth in private bailiff firms which are more used by magistrate courts and don't necessarily have the same level of professionalism as the Court bailiffs (which with the way things are going are likely to soon be a thing of the past anyway) .


The police have the power to enter because there is a crime being committed, but the bailiffs don't need it in this case. Once the time limit elapses the owner has legally regained the right of possession over their property and he can grant the bailiff permission to enter it on their behalf in order to exercise it.


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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 1/9/2012 12:46:49 AM   
great_badir


Posts: 4662
Joined: 6/10/2005
From: A breaking rope bridge in the middle of the jungle
quote:

ORIGINAL: JessFranco
Very few squatters live in otherwise occupied properties. Most are in houses that have been empty for years. There should certainly be a fast-track process for challenging squatters' rights, but criminalisation is wrong other than in clear-cut cases (where other laws generally come into play).


That doesn't make it okay. The public sector authority I work for owns many vacant properties of all types - industrial units, commercial premises, domestic and social housing/flats. We've been plagued by squatters through the years and in EVERY SINGLE case since I've been working there (nearly 10 years) the properties have been left in a terrible state. The very worst one I've been involved with was a domestic flat which had lain empty for about five years (although in a desirable part of town and a very nice flat, it had no access to a fire escape [the building it was in was turned into two buildings by developers some 25 years ago] and, as it was on a third floor, we could not legally let it in any way, shape or form). Squatters got in (we were pretty sure they broke in) and, when they left of their own accord six weeks later (in the meantime we'd already spent several thousand pounds of legal fees), most of the windows had been broken, some (original) floor boards had been removed and used as firewood for fires IN THE PROPERTY, there were used hyperdermic needles strewn about the place and, worst of all, human shit spread on the walls. The cost of that clean up was a staggering 13000.

Another property we had was a site of four large industrial units (since demolished) which had squatters in for nearly a year. Whilst the site wasn't left in the same state as the flat above, the squatters did use around 40000 (forty thousand) worth of gas and electricity for the time they were there. To give you some idea of how ridiculous that is, 40K is how much a medium sized multi-storey office building or secondary school might use in a year. Of course, neither we nor the energy supplier could shut the gas or electricity off because of both squatter's and human rights, so we'd have been the ones breaking the law. And do you think they paid that 40K? (rhetorical)

The whole idea of squatters is abhorrent, if you ask me, whether they are "innocently" occupying a genuinely empty property or not.



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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 1/9/2012 11:33:49 AM   
JessFranco


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From: London
There should be measures to fast-track evictions from council and commercial properties and criminal penalties levied for vandalism. The principle that land that isn't being used should be used, and that property owners have an underlying obligation to maintain and utilise their properties where possible is as old as the law itself and perfectly valid. A rebalancing of rights might be called for, criminalising something that has deliberately been legal for centuries isn't.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 1/9/2012 1:03:21 PM   
Dpp1978


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It should probably be reiterated that this act only applies to residential premises, so illegal occupiers of disused commercial properties will not be affected.

I suspect that as time passes and we see what the real world effects of this act are, we won't see many people prosecuted under it. When faced with the prospect of arrest the occupiers will in all likelihood move off peaceably, much as they do now when faced with a possession order. The guidance notes to this section recommend that any police action should be taken in conjunction with the department in the local authority which is responsible for dealing with homeless people.

I also doubt those that occupy truly abandoned buildings will have to worry too much about as I seriously doubt it will become a major priority for the police to proactively seek out squatters for prosecution. They'll wait for the rightful owners to make a complaint.

It will just give the rightful owners the powers needed to remove squatters without having to go through the courts.

In short the end result will be exactly the same, but it will take up a lot less time and money: both private money and public money.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 1/9/2012 7:24:28 PM   
Woger


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I wonder I there have been cases of squatters suing the real owner of the house for injuries received while in there.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 7/9/2012 12:13:23 PM   
Beno


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Squatters are scum


true story.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 10/9/2012 4:23:35 PM   
gazpop


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well Beno, I'm glad to see you thought long and hard about a response to such a sensitive issue and came up with such eloquence.

true story

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 11/9/2012 10:13:17 AM   
TwistedAnimator


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Le Tenia

Thankfully never been put in that situation, however if i was, then i would have no hesitation in baseball batting the fuckers!!



I've always been amazed that the Police haven't let certain acts of vigilante justice slide.
It's not like they don't want to do it themselves.

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RE: End of squatter's rights? - 16/9/2012 1:22:48 AM   
Emyr Thy King


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quote:

ORIGINAL: gazpop

well Beno, I'm glad to see you thought long and hard about a response to such a sensitive issue and came up with such eloquence.

true story


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True story


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