Question - Re: New Criminal Law - Squatting

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    Question - Re: New Criminal Law - Squatting

    Given the enforcement of the new criminal law "Offence of Squatting in a Residential Building" - could anyone enlighten me on the following scenario?


    Tenant Signs AST (Ashored Shorthold Tenancy) Agreement for 6 months, at the end of the term the tenant ignores all attempts to sign a new agreement and subsequently stops payment of rent thereafter.


    Do they lose their rights as a tenant and become a squatter, putting them at risk of a criminal record and arrest?

    I understand if they are still in their tenancy agreement and stop paying that the Landlord would need to go through the Courts to have them evicted.

    The law read's that the tenant isn't a squatter if they continue paying having failed to re-sign a tenancy agreement - but says nothing about if they stop paying.

    A tenant is never a squatter.

    At the end of their 'contract' - if they remain in occupation - the law (section 5, 1988 Housing Act) gives them a statutory (ie created by law) periodic tenancy. Therefore they still have a valid tenancy and that tenancy remains valid until either:
    1) They surrender the property to you; or
    2) You obtain a court order and it is enforced by court officials.

    It os not possible for someone who enters a property with permission to be a squatter. The nearest is if a tenant gives notice but fails to leave - in which case they would become a trespasser - but even that would require a (easy to obtain) court order and bailiffs.


      In addition, even if a tenant remains after his tenancy actually ends (ie. if he becomes a trespasser) the new law is clear that he won't be committing any criminal offence:

      144 Offence of squatting in a residential building

      (1)A person commits an offence if—
      (a)the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,
      (b)the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
      (c)the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.

      (2)The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).


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