‘Good’ you may say ‘let the dread haired, new age, work shy bastards, pay for their accommodation like the rest of us have to!’ We have all read the stories in the press about someone popping out to by a loaf of bread, to come back to their home an hour later to find a 50 strong, new age community living in their house.
That’s what they are though, just stories. The truth is there already are adequate laws protecting people who live in their homes against squatting. The 1977 Criminal Law Act protects displaced residential occupiers (DROs) and protected intending occupiers (PIOs). So if you live in a property or you intend to live in a property and anyone tries to squat there, they would be instantly evicted by the police.
So, to be very clear, this new law has been brought into effect to protect people who own multiple properties and have no intention of living in them, nor are they planning to live in them. In other words, the rich.
There has been a massive propaganda campaign by the mainstream media over the last couple of years jumping on every negative squatting story. They have exaggerated the truth, lied and used blatant scaremongering to create fear of the squatting bogeyman, who is loitering in the shadows outside your front door. Waiting for you to pop down to the shops, so in he can move into your home and set up a commune.
For example, the government carried out a consultation in March 2012, of the 2,217 people that responded 2,126 (96%) said do not change the law, concerned about the impact of criminalising squatting and only 10 people supported it. (By the way, that means one sad person had no opinion on the subject, they went to the trouble to register their details, only to tick ‘Don’t know’. I mean, why would you bother ffs?)
The government completely ignored the responses from it’s own consultation.
What did the people say who will have to police and deal with this new law change?
The law society said ‘The current law is comprehensive and effective … the proposals in this consultation are based on misunderstandings by the media of the scale of the problem and a misunderstanding of the current law’
In an open letter written to The Guardian 160 lawyers and legal experts said ‘Repeated inaccurate reporting of this issue has created fear for homeowners, confusion for the police and ill-informed debate among both the public and politicians on reforming the law’
The Metropolitan Police said ‘Criminalisation of squatting and subsequent enforcement would have an impact on policing, in terms of community relations, local policing, objectives and cost’
The people, who will have to deal with this, clearly say ‘don’t change the existing law’
Another inexplicable aspect of this law change is the timing.
We are, after all, in the middle of the world’s biggest recession. Government available money to help the homeless has already been cut by 23%, they simply say that they do not have the money to help. On top of that, there is virtually no additional social housing being planned.
So what is going to happen to the 50,000 people currently squatting in empty buildings? They are going to be criminalized and set to prison. Paid for by….. you guessed it ……. us, the taxpayers.
The cost of implementing this new law is estimated to be 790 million and the subsequent policing of it are estimated to be one billion.
To a cynic it could seem that, the super wealthy, who can afford to own multiple properties and allow them to remain empty for decades, no longer have to worry about keeping the properties safe from squatters, nor do they need to bother themselves with the costs involved in removing them. This is now a state problem and the taxpayer will meet any subsequent costs involved in getting squatters out. Neat trick.
So a law no one wanted to change (obviously this excludes the entire readership of The Sun and The Daily Mail) which benefits only the very wealthy, has in fact been changed.
The people who have to deal with this never wanted the law to change.
This has happened while the world experiences it’s biggest recession.
There is no provision in place to help those homeless people currently squatting.
There is, in fact no money to help those homeless people at all.
There is, however, money to implement this change and police it.
This is plain and simply an enhancement and enforcement of existing property rights for the super wealthy. These property rights take precedent over the basic human right of shelter for a human being. Although, the human being in question has committed the unforgivable crime of being a poor human being in the UK.
It has often been said that there are millions of people who are just one sacking and two big arguments away from being homeless. I sincerely hope that in light of this new law change, this never happens to you or me.