Category Archives: General

What does the law say about squatting mansions for protest?

Squatting means occupying empty buildings, or land, without permission. Normally, it means homeless people finding somewhere to live, for a while at least, but what people do with the space they occupy is up to them. Squatting in non-residential buildings, or where there has been an agreement, is still a civil matter. This means that you shouldn’t normally be arrested or prosecuted for squatting in a non-residential building.

Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 makes it an offence to force entry to a building which is occupied, and this includes squats. Therefore provided that the squat is properly secured and is physically occupied at all times, the owner isn’t allowed to use violence to break in. Instead they need to apply to court for a possession order which must then be enforced via authorised court enforcement officers.

Although squatting itself is a civil rather than a criminal matter, the police do have powers to break in to protect life and limb and prevent a breach of the peace. The also have powers to break in and exercise powers of arrest where they have reasonable grounds to suspect that a person in the building has committed an offence that can be tried in the crown court; this includes, among other things, theft, criminal damage, dishonestly using electricity without the proper authority and burglary.

Burglary means more than just being in the building without permission; it requires proof of the actual or intended commission of another offence such as theft or causing grievous bodily harm.

What about residential buildings?

Section 144 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 makes it a criminal offence to be in a residential building as a trespasser (having entered as a trespasser) to either to live there, or be present with the intention of living there for any period.

The criminal offence therefore does not apply where the people occupying a building neither live their nor have any intention of doing so. In theory, this means that squatting a residential building for the sole purpose of carrying on a protest is not an offence, provided that the occupiers neither live in the building nor intend to do so. However it is possible for a person to be both living in a building and protesting at the same time and so care needs to be taken when planning this type of protest.

Section 144 does not define what it means to ‘live’ in a building – and the phrase is therefore open to interpretation. However tactics which have been employed at protest occupations in the past include keeping bedding to a minimum, and maintaining an ‘occupier’s rota’ to persuade the police that no-one is staying at the property for more than a few hours at a time. Such information is then often attached to the building in the form of a ‘legal warning’.

While these tactics have often been successful, it is important to be aware there have also been occasions where the police have forced entry on the basis that they ‘reasonably suspect’ that people are living in the building.

However, it’s generally rare for this to result in successful prosecutions. If arrested, giving a no comment interview (or providing a pre-prepared statement only if so advised by a solicitor) is particularly important here. It is extremely difficult for the police to prove that a person was living or intending to live in a building unless the person admits that this is what they were doing.

It is interesting to note those arrested for the recent Russian mansion squat were not arrested for squatting in a residential building but instead on suspicion of burglary. It can only be assumed that this is because of perceived difficulties in establishing that the occupiers were living, or intending to live, in the building.

There are plenty more sanctioned mansions out there, and so lots more opportunities to test this out!

If you are considering carrying out a squat related protest you can visit the Advisory Service for Squatters website at Squatter.org.uk, or contact advice@squatter.org.uk for more advice and help in preparing a legal warning.

To learn more about squatting, check out the Squatter’s Handbook, or follow the Advisory Service for Squatters on Twitter @ASSquattheworld.

New experimental legal warning

We’ve come up with a new paragraph for the legal warning that will hopefully stop some without notice evictions, especially when the bailiffs are trying to re-use an old warrant.

If you include an email (that you check regularly) you should get informed of any communication with the court, and so be able to respond

The extra para would read “THAT pursuant to CPR 39.8, any communication to the Court, including any with or without notice application, must be immediately copied to all parties. Failure to comply with this rule may lead to the court imposing sanctions and may be a breach of professional conduct. We request that any application or correspondence to the Court concerning our occupation of this property be copied by email to “

should have a copy on here soon

London Practical Squatters Evening

back this Monday 7-9 144a Deptford High St SE8 to meet new crews and share skills

Networking

ASS can give advice and support but for more practical help we need local networks. In London there’s the NELSN phone network and you really should be on it if squatting here.

Text 07575013111 to be added

And create your own more local networks too maybe

Eviction update

Under new rules, if you have ever had a licence to be where you are you must get notice of eviction, even if it’s the High Court cowboys that do it.
We’re still working out the practicalities of making use of this, but let us know your experiences, and if you’re in court and the other side haven’t mentioned your licence make sure you put it in your defence, even if it’s not going to help otherwise

temporary contact info

we’ve not got access to the office at the moment so to contact us please email advice4squatters@gmail.com or phone 07545508628

squatters no longer covered by stay of eviction proceedings

an update to CPR PD51Z has now excluded claims against trespassers, including IPOs from the 90-day stay
so we’re back to ‘normal’ even though we’re meant to stay at home

evictions halted

Because of the pandemic, eviction court cases and enforcement have been stopped from 27th March to 29th October, possibly to be extended.

Of course landlords and others may try other methods so keep prepared, and let us know.

office issues

the office has not been open for a bit, due to leccy works as well as keeping safe from the virus.

we’re trying to get back on top of emails and any other messages, but sorry if you’ve not heard anything.

stay safe

respond to Government plans to strengthen police powers against Gypsies and Travellers

Friends Families and Travellers have designed a simple way to respond to the latest planned attacks https://www.gypsy-traveller.org/how-to-respond-to-government-plans-to-strengthen-police-powers-against-gypsies-and-travellers/

but you might also want to read up on the threats on their website and respond more fully