MP in court as squatters ordered from house in Hove

Posted On 14 Jun 2011 at 9:47 pm

Hove Conservative MP Mike Weatherley was in court today – lending his support to a homeowner as she sought to evict squatters.

Mr Weatherley went to Brighton County Court in William Street as history teacher Lisa Cockin applied for an eviction order.

A judge granted her an order to regain possession of her mother’s old home in York Avenue, Hove.

Afterwards she spoke about the expense and frustration of having squatters take over her house and not being allowed to go into her own property.

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Mrs Cockin, 40, said: “I’m just trying to raise awareness of this ridiculous situation

“This is not a house that belongs to a faceless property company.

“This was someone’s home.

“My mum moved in there when I was 18.”

Mrs Cockin said that in January last year there was a fire at the property which did a lot of damage.

Her mother then moved in with her granddaughter.

Grieving

Mrs Cockin said: “My mum had a stroke in April and she died in June.”

While grieving for her mother, the family settled the estate and set about restoring the property. They then put it up for sale and received an offer.

She said that the day before the anniversary of her mother’s death, the squatters moved in.

“We’d spent £1,000 on an alarm and a security company.

“Mum died on 5 June. They moved in on 4 June – as far as we know – pretty much the anniversary.

“It was very upsetting.”

She said that the burglar alarm went off at 4am on Saturday 4 June and at 9am the alarm company found that the house had been occupied by up to ten squatters.

“There was a sense of helplessness because there was nothing we could do.

“We couldn’t get to a solicitor until the Monday.

“It took so much to-ing and fro-ing with paperwork just to prove that we were the owners.

“Then the squatters had to have three days’ notice before the court case

“The law is totally against the owner of the property.”

Cost

On top of the £1,000 cost of securing the property while trying to sell it, Mrs Cockin has been landed with a bill of about £2,500 in legal fees.

She will also have to pay to secure the property once again when possession has been regained and for any damage caused since it was entered.

She said: “If there is any damage it’s unlikely we’ll be able to claim that back.

“We’ve had an offer and that was about to go through.

“As far as we know it will still go through but the buyer will need to view the property again and if there is any damage they may want a readjustment to the price.”

Mr Weatherley said: “I have been campaigning for squatting to be criminalised in Parliament and this court case highlights the reality that people face every day with the current law as it is.

“I am looking forward to the day when squatters will be on the wrong side of the law and that people can be assured that their properties are safe.”

Mrs Cockin, who now lives near King’s Lynn in Norfolk, said that she supported Mr Weatherley’s campaign to make squatting a criminal offence.

Mr Weatherley has questioned ministers about reforming the law on squatting since becoming an MP, he has handed in a petition to 10 Downing Street and initiated a debate in Westminster Hall.

He said: “Despite my obvious frustrations with the current law, I welcome the judge’s decision to grant an eviction order.

“The problem now is that the squatters will not be held to account and they are free to simply squat somewhere else in Brighton and Hove.

“Sadly, by tomorrow, somebody else will become the victim.”

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