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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Squatters on the rise

A nationwide tenant eviction firm used by a vast number of property owners, Landlord Assist, has recently announced its concern with regard to the chances of the UK seeing a rise in the number of squatters. This has come after a recent case where Camden Council had to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by the Advisory Service for Squatters. There are now fears that more and more councils across the UK will be forced to release details of vacant properties.

Camden Council had to disclose a list of up to 530 council-managed and private homes that were left vacant at the time. This therefore raised fears about increasing numbers of squatters in the area.

Whilst Landlord Assist understands the need for regenerating empty properties, they now fear that the trend to regenerate empty properties, and therefore disclose details of empty properties, could lead to increasing numbers of squatters across the UK. An empty property, quite clearly, represents an easy opportunity to a potential squatter.

Stephen Parry, Commercial Director at Landlord Assist, has been quoted saying: “At Landlord Assist we regularly deal with many cases of squatters where landlords have had to go through the courts to retrieve their property and where neighbours have complained about anti-social behaviour, levels of noise and overcrowding.”

Many landlords can find themselves prone to squatters due to the fact that their property may be left empty during certain periods of the year. For example, if a landlord lets their properties to students, for the majority of the summer months they will have vacant properties. A comprehensive landlord insurance policy will be able to help protecting you; however, unoccupied property insurance may also be worth looking at for many landlords.

It has also been reported recently that the government is now considering making squatting a criminal offence. This has come after a number of high profile cases where multi-million pound homes in London were occupied without the owner giving consent. The squatters, when eventually discovered, were reported and told to leave the properties.

On the back of these recent cases, Ministers have published guidance and advice for householders in order to assist them in securing their property.
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