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Squatting in vacant housing becomes illegal today in the UK
#1
September 1st what happens now?

On the 1st September S144 of LASPO 2012 comes into force. We'll leave it to others to explain how this is crap law, in response to myths from sections of the media, brought in by a government of the rich.

The intention is to criminalise squatting in residential property.

We do not think that it will fully achieve this, and non-residential property remains as safe to squat as before.

We expect that the next few months will see a spate of challenges and test cases, which will draw lines between what can and what can't be done.

We at ASS, along with others, have been going through what's actually in writing, to work out how we can help people to be as safe as possible. Unfortunately we can't be as reassuring as we would wish.

What is clear is that we should take down our old much-loved Legal Warnings, as these will be read as an admission of committing a criminal offence.

We have posted on this website (see latest news column, to the right);

A new Legal Warning for non-residential properties

A more specific Legal Warning for pubs, and

A draft notice, for people to cut and paste to explain why they and the property in question are not covered by the new law. This document is a work in progress and we need feedback to know what is working and what isn't. Don't try arguments that are clearly not appropriate to your situation.

Squatting Made LESS Simple has been updated slightly

We will be monitoring the situation, writing to police stations to explain where they might be going wrong, working out how to go to court to get injunctions against illegal evictions, helping arrange legal challenges, and helping those who want to stand up to this stupid attack on our rights to a home, and to social space.

For more frontline support there are a number of local support networks as well as the Eviction Resistance Network, ( evictionresistance@squat.net) and others. Get involved, organise and support each other.



Here's our latest understanding, in short. More detailed versions being knocked out manically:

SQUAT LAW CHANGE ALERT

The new law on squatting (s144 LASPO 2012) will be coming into force on the 1st September 2012.

Not everyone who is squatting, or considered by others to be squatting, will be affected by the new law, but people will need to be prepared to explain, quite forcefully at times, why they are not affected.

The wording of S144 starts:

(1)A person commits an offence if

(a) the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,

(b) the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and

© the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.

(2)The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).

So Squatting is still legal in non-residential properties. A building is defined as 'residential' if it is "designed or adapted, before the time of entry, for use as a place to live".

You are also not committing an offence if you have, or have had a tenancy or licence to live in the property, if you are not living or intending to live in the property, or if you don't have any way to know you are a trespasser (in which case you probably wouldn't be reading this).

Tenancies and licences do not have to be in writing, but if people have reason to think they may be accused of breaking the law it would be best to collect as much paperwork as possible. Tenancies and licences can also have been granted by a tenant of the owner, or by an agent, possibly without the owner's knowledge (but they can check and return).

Any police officer would need to have reasonable suspicion that you (or anyone) have committed a crime, to force entry and to carry out an arrest, so it can be in your interests to explain otherwise. Explaining through a closed door or upstairs window is always preferable to letting them in.

Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 still applies against those trying to force entry without lawful authority. The problem is that the new law gives further lawful authority to the police to enter if they suspect the offence is being committed.



Squatting is still legal (under certain circumstances)

22/8/12

The Statutory Instrument required to set a date for the commencement of the new law was quietly passed in July, to come into force on the 1st September. It is

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Commencement No. 1) Order 2012, No. 1956 (C. 77)

and can be found at

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1956/made

and S144 at

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2012/10/section/144

Squatting will remain legal under many circumstances and everyone is going to have to be prepared to explain how it is that they are NOT covered by the new law.

In brief, the law does not cover people in non-residential properties, people who have or have had a licence or tenancy, even if this has ended, and people who are not living in, or intending to live in the property (for example just visiting)

ASS has been working on, and will be publishing further guidance very soon.

Good luck everyone!
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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