Essex: Company boss welcomes end of ‘squatters’ rights’ and new law criminalising squatting

A property letting firm boss has welcomed a new law which criminalises squatters.

Squatting in a residential building in England and Wales becomes a criminal offence tomorrow, meaning squatters would face jail or a fine. Government Ministers have said it would offer better protection for homeowners. The maximum penalty will be six months in jail, a �5,000 fine, or both.

Terry Farthing, managing director of Airport Lettings, based at Stansted Airport, said the new law was the ‘right thing’ for homeowners in the county and across the UK.

“This new law will slam shut the door on squatters once and for all,” he said.

“At present, we have the ridiculous situation where squatting is treated as a civil matter. That has meant homeowners have had to go to a civil court to prove the squatters have trespassed before they can be evicted from the property.

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“From the start of September it will be a criminal matter. That means a homeowner can simply complain to the police who, if satisfied that the claim is genuine, can take action and arrest the squatters.”

The Government has said this week that for too long, hard-working people have faced long legal battles to get their homes back from squatters, and repair bills reaching into the thousands when they finally leave.

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“In the current challenging economic environment many individuals and families consider renting out a property but all too often have been put off by the threat of squatting,” Mr Farthing said.

“Landlords will be pleased that Ministers have listened and homeowners will get more protection than before.

“It is right that the law is now on the side of the homeowner. If someone falls behind with their rent they won’t be kicked out because of this new law but it does mean that we rightfully see an end to so called squatters’ rights.”

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