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50,000 people said to be squatting in the UK

  • The Ministry of Justice thinks there could be anything from 12,000 to 50,000 people squatting in the UK.
  • In 2011 there were 790 trespass or possession orders granted by the courts.
  • The MOJ estimates that under the new legislation (when squatting becomes a criminal offence) between 350 to 2,000 people a year will be prosecuted.
  • If convicted of squatting they may face a prison sentence of up to 6 months or a maximum fine of £5,000.
  • The MOJ also has funds of £160 million to try and get 10,700 empty homes back into use - so that theyre not vulnerable to squatters.
  • Legislation applies to England and Wales only.

Government to come down hard on squatters

For too long, squatters have had the justice system on the run and have caused homeowners untold misery in eviction, repair and clean-up costs. Not any more.

Hard-working homeowners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first - this new offence will ensure the police and other agencies can take quick and decisive action to deal with the misery of squatting.

– Justice minister Crispin Blunt

No longer will there be so-called 'squatters rights'.

We're tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner and making the law crystal clear: entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence.

And by making this change, we can slam shut the door on squatters once and for all.

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– Housing minister Grant Shapps

Charities fear new law on squatters could lead to big rise in homelessness

Campaigners have warned that criminalising squatting in residential buildings would lead to an increase in some of the most vulnerable homeless people sleeping rough.

Campaigners fear an increase in homelessness Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire

The introduction of the offence - which will carry a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail for persistent offenders, a £5,000 fine or both - follows a Government consultation on the issue last summer.

But homeless charity Crisis said the new law would criminalise vulnerable people, leaving them in prison or facing a fine they cannot pay.

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