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Beware of squatters

wantspacegotspace.co.uk - Prop-Search - Beware of squattersProp-Manage is concerned that new legislation, which makes squatting in residential properties a criminal offence, could have a negative effect on commercial property.

The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act received royal assent earlier this year and came into effect on 01 September 2012.  Squatters in residential

properties can now be fined up to £5,000 and given a six month prison sentence if they take up residence in another property.

There is some concern that this new law does not go far enough as the main reason that the majority of squatters live in such as way is that they cannot afford to buy

or rent a residence.  This leaves the question of how they will afford the fine?

David Robbins Bsc MRICS, a Surveyor at Prop-Manage, commented: “We are concerned that this new law could mean that squatters more readily target commercial properties

to avoid the penalties that now come with squatting in residential properties.”

Prop-Manage is advising commercial property owners of empty premises to take immediate action to ensure they reduce the risk of being targeted by squatters:

•    Ensure properties are as secure as possible, including buildings, yards and car parks
•    Remove any items of value
•    Change locks, alarm codes etc
•    Consider using an intruder device with motion detectors, CCTV, monitored webcams
•    Electricity supplies are de-energised so that if squatters take up residence, they are not racking up bills in the owners name
•    Arrange for frequent internal inspections

If a property owner should find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having attracted squatters, they should contact either their managing agent or a firm of

accredited bailiffs

David Robbins concludes: “In the long term the answer would be to introduce new legislation for both residential and commercial properties to make it easier to deal

with squatters/travellers rather than simply introduce fines which they may not be able to afford.”

Posted by The Editor (wantspacegotspace) on 23rd October 2012 (updated 09/04/2013)

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