Wednesday, October 05, 2011

squat or what?

Britain's conservative government wants to tilt the nation's laws against squatters, The New York Times reports. But at what cost. While some landlords may find ejecting squatters legally a cumbersome process, the article also notes that "Housing advocates say there are an estimated 762,000 empty and abandoned properties in Britain that would actually benefit by having tenants. And with homelessness likely to increase in the next few years, as deep cuts in housing allowances for welfare recipients take affect, advocates say it would make sense to match tenantless homes with homeless tenants

After all, as one housing lawyer told the paper, squatting is hard work and most people are serious about needing a home. “Most squatters who are actually looking for a place to live are doing it on entirely rational grounds, and not looking for somewhere where there’s a homeowner likely to turn up at any moment,” that attorney, Giles Peaker, said. “They’re looking for something that’s long-term vacant, where the owner has dropped the ball."


David Over said...


My name is David, I work at the Royal Geographical Society in London, UK. I manage the discussion series.

I wonder is you could contact me regarding an opportunity to speak in London in December '11 at the Society.

Contact email:

Look forward to hearing from you.
All the best

Anonymous said...

Amendments to the Legal Aid bill announced by Kenneth Clarke (Minister of "Justice") would make it a criminal offence to squat in residential buildings.

The response to the consultation on squatting came out today and of the 2,200 respondents, more than 2,100 were in favour of NOT criminalising squatting. Showing yet again that the 1% do not give a shit about the 99% (or, ok in this case, to use the real figures, it's the 4% versus 96% ), the Government is simply going to push through the law anyway.

This is the gist of the proposal (from page 36 of the consultation report):

"The new offence will be committed where a person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser, knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser and is living in the building or intends to live there for any period". NOTE1

The proposal has been added to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is a rubbish bit of legislation planning to take away the previously automatic right of those who cannot afford it to have their legal representation paid for. This short-sighted Conservative plan to save money by fucking over those people who cannot afford lawyers will most likely work out more expensive for everyone in the long term. NOTE2

Sneaking in an amendment is a blatant attempt to push through the criminalisation of squatting, despite there being no consensus on whether this would actually be a good idea. Certainly homelessness charities are against it (NOTE 3) and lawyers think it is unworkable (NOTE 4). In the response itself, High Court Enforcement Officers, the Criminal Bar Association, the Law Society, the Magistrates’ Association, the University and College Union and the National Union of Students all expressed concerns about criminalisation.

But it's clear the way things are headed: the day BEFORE the consultation had even ended, Mad Mike Weatherley recorded that Clarke has promised to criminalise squatting in a keynote speech!! NOTE5

In recent days there have been lots of positive squatting news such as the tour by Dutch squatters, the Okasional Cafe in Manchester, the Plebs' College in Oxford, Offmarket in London and new squats in Brighton. This just goes to show that there is still life in the counter culture and that there are things worth fighting for. NOTE 6

Fuck the law!! Squat the lot!!


You can download the consultation response as pdf-

SQUASH Response-


Legal aid bill-

Legal aid cuts will cause courts logjam, warn top judges (Guardian)-

Current status of legal aid bill-


True plight of squatters exposed by research


Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers' reforms, claim lawyers


Ken Clarke Confirms Squatting Law Change After Backing Mike-


Dutch squatters -
OK -
Plebs -
Offmarket -