Government to back home-owners over squatter claims

2 11 2011

 The Government has released new proposals to make squatting illegal in residential properties.

 It has done so as yet another case emerges where the squatters claim that they are legitimate tenants.

They have taken over a vacant three-bed semi in Edmonton, north London, and have refused to leave, after they were discovered living there by an estate agent showing a prospective purchaser round the property, which is up for sale. The owner of the house, Con McDermott, is to go to court next month to remove the 20 people, thought to be Romanian, who have taken over his empty property.

 The house was taken over by the group just over two weeks ago. According to reports, they have produced an apparently forged tenancy agreement and claim they have every right to be there, having paid £3,000 to a landlord named Mr Mohammed. When Mr McDermott went to see the house for himself, he was berated for having turned off the water by a woman who said she wanted to install a washing machine.

 How the courts will deal with the latest case has yet to be seen, but justice secretary Ken Clarke has announced new proposals to “end the misery of home-owners whose properties have been preyed on by squatters”. The amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill means that anyone found squatting in any residential property would face a year in jail and/or a £5,000 fine.

 Mr Clarke said: “Far too many people endure the misery, expense and incredible hassle of removing squatters from their property. Hard-working home-owners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first. Our commitment to this new offence will ensure the law is firmly on the side of the home-owner so that quick and decisive action can be taken.”

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