Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Chopped Potato : Stand by your land

So you're squatting, but where do you stand legally?

This is what the UK law has to say on the matter.

Protection for the occupier

1. Occupation of property without prior consent of the owner, is not a criminal offence, and there is no automatic right for the owner to use violence or threats, to regain entrance or to evict the resident occupier.

2. The Police have no powers over such a civil dispute.

3. The Police are obliged to stop any unlawful eviction that may cause a breach of the peace.

Resources for the displaced occupier ('displaced residential occupier')

Under The Criminal Law Act 1997 as amended and the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. You may have the status of ‘a displaced residential occupier’.

As such you may apply to a Justice of the peace or Commissioner for Oaths for an order to allow you to enter the premises to evict. The previous occupiers will then be committing an offence should they not leave at your request. At this point you may ask for Police assistance.

The Police have powers under the above Acts, in order to keep the peace, to arrest any person who fails to comply with an Order obtained by 'a displaced residential occupier'.

Resources for an intended occupier ('protected intending occupier')

Under the above Acts, where you have obtained a contract to occupy the premises but have not yet done so, you may obtain the status of ‘a protected intending occupier’.

Where there is evidence that the intended occupation is not arranged to deprive the present occupiers of their home, you may be granted an order to evict the resident occupiers.

This status does not give you the right to forcibly enter the premises

"Displaced residential occupier" is the legislation which allows the police to go and evict squatters who squat a non-empty home.