Hove MP's squatting campaign backed by ministers as they set out changes to law

Posted On 13 Jul 2011 at 8:42 pm

The campaign by Hove MP Mike Weatherley for squatting to be made a criminal offence was given government backing today.

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt published a consultation paper with a view to abolishing “squatters’ rights”.

Among the other proposals set out in the consultation paper is a plan to jail persistent squatters.

Mr Blunt said: “Far too many people have to endure the misery, expense and incredible hassle of removing squatters from their property.

“Hard-working home and business owners need and deserve a justice system where their rights come first.

“Today’s consultation is a first step to achieving this.

“I am clear that the days of so-called ‘squatters’ rights’ must end and squatters who break the law receive a proper punishment.”

Critics of Mr Weatherley’s campaign have said that many squatters are genuinely homeless and making use of empty properties.

But some squatters have used empty properties to make political points or to highlight a protest in Brighton and Hove.

One example is the old Taj shop, which has become a Sainsbury’s supermarket, at the junction of Old Steine and St James’s Street.

Others have taken over homes in the process of being sold by grieving relatives such as Lisa Cockin’s property in York Avenue, Hove, which she renovated after her mother’s death.

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, said: “I want to see an end to the misery that squatters cause and slam the door on their so-called ‘rights’, tipping the scales of justice in favour of the law-abiding homeowner once and for all.

“We’ve already taken steps to crack down on this menace, including publishing guidance for property owners to keep squatters out, and allocating £100 million towards bringing empty homes back into use.

“So there is no excuse for anyone to bring disruption and destruction to property owners’ lives by squatting, and that’s why it’s vital we look to take steps to tackle this problem.”

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