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New criminal offence of squatting in residential buildings

Landlords and agents of residential buildings will welcome a new criminal offence making squatting illegal. The new offence came into force on 1 September 2012.

Squatting in a residential building is now a criminal offence, even if the squatters entered the building before 1 September. This means landlords and agents can now act where individuals have entered a building and are living there (or intending to live there) without permission; and those individuals could now be arrested by the police.

If the new offence reduces squatting in residential buildings, the government will consider whether to introduce a similar offence for squatting in commercial buildings.


Landlords and agents should inform squatters in their residential premises that criminal proceedings may be taken against them if they do not leave voluntarily. They can consider gathering information on them to pass to the police if they do not leave.

Jonathan Waters is the founder of Helix Law. Before qualifying as a Solicitor he worked in industry and in investment banking for over a decade. He was also the Partner in charge of Commercial Litigation, Employment Law and Property Litigation at Stephen Rimmer LLP. Jonathan has wide experience of helping and advising businesses to avoid or to deal with commercial disputes and in particular construction disputes.

This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of  this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice. 

Contact Helix Law on 01273 761 990 or email: [email protected]