Don't criminalise squatting
For some the choice is squatting or the streets
Many homeless people who squat do so out of necessity as they simply have nowhere else to go. They are often extremely vulnerable and squat in derelict and dangerous conditions. Property owners' rights under current law can - and should - be enforced by the police and the courts.
The Government has rushed through a change that will mean squatting in “residential” buildings will be punishable with up to a year in prison and a £5,000 fine. The trouble is that this includes buildings that are totally derelict. And Crisis is concerned that homeless people will end up in prison for simply trying to put a roof over their heads.
Crisis is campaigning against these changes which will criminalise some very vulnerable homeless people.
The grim reality of squatting
- 39 per cent of single homeless people have squatted.
- Many homeless people who squat are very vulnerable, with 37% having mental health problems and 20% alcohol dependency. Many have also slept rough.
- Squatting is dangerous and conditions can be appalling. Squatters often survive without heating, electricity or running water. Fire hazards and other dangers are commonplace, as are rats. All of this can cause or exacerbate health problems.
- Find out more about squatting and homelessness.
The law as it stands
- If squatters don’t leave someone’s home when asked they are committing a criminal offence
- Squatters can also be prosecuted for other offences including criminal damage or using utilities such as gas and water without paying for them.
- A judge can swiftly order the eviction of squatters by issuing a possession order or interim possession order.
Find out more about the campaign
- Read our squatting consultation response
- Check out the Daily Rant's myth-busting squatting edition
- Read our latest report on the links between homelessness and squatting
- Find out what our recent research into hidden homelessness found out about squatting
- Read the joint letter to Crispin Blunt MP, Justice Minister form Crisis and 10 other homelessness organisations, to write a joint letter .
Squatting in the media
- Labour to back government crackdown on squatters, despite widespread concerns about wisdom of proposals in the Guardian
- A letter from 160 housing legal experts in a letter to the Guardian called on the media and government to stop misrepresenting the law around squatting
- An angry response to the letter from Mike Weatherly MP, a champion of criminalisation elicited this response from the Nearly Legal blog, written by barristers and legal experts.
- Squatters are among society's most vulnerable people, says a report in the Observer
- Criminalising squatting will hit homeless, charities warn in the Guardian
- Squatters: Who are they and why do they squat? on the BBC News website
- Criminalising squatting will merely make the problem worse in the Guardian