Squatting is still legal
It will remain legal in non-residential properties, but a new law is going through the final farcical stages of parliamentary approval that is meant to make squatting in residential property a crime. The law still needs royal assent and a timetable to come into force, and its effect is not so simple. The wording leaves some space for argument, and there will be human rights challenges.
If you are in residential premises, police would need to have “reasonable suspicion” that you are trespassing, that you know or ought to have known that you are trespassing, that you entered as a trespasser, that you are living or intend to live in the property, and that the property does in fact come under the legal definition of residential.
How interested the police will be in enforcing this new law will vary, leading to arbitrariness and insecurity. Making them understand that a particular squat might not fit the terms of the new law will be a challenge. The experience of ASS is that police prefer to get people to move out under threat of arrest rather than actually have the hassle of arrest, but this will not always be true.
Many people have no choice but to carry on squatting, and many will refuse to be intimidated. Finding empty non-residential property will not always be easy or appropriate.
We are going to need to be more organised and look after each other better. We will need legal back-up available on the street, and people will need help moving quickly and storing their possessions. We need networks, linked up with others resisting evictions and attacks on housing rights.
Advisory Service for Squatters