Squatters

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  • #43980
    churdle
    Participant

    We have been bombarded with letters since March this year from a particular landlord in relation to a person whom he initally described as a tenant but now calls a squatter.  The person themselves has only recently claimed HB (in October 12) but since September 12 the landlord has provided us with copies of correspondence between him and the local police (the landlord lives out of the area) where he is asking them to use the new sqautter legislation to get her out of his property yet still writes to us about whether HB is/should be paid to her.

    We have pointed out to him that he cant really have it both ways, she is either a tenant (and therefore not illegally squatting in his property) or she is not.  If she is not then she is not being charged rent and would not be entitled to HB.  At the moment no decision has been made on her claim.

    Any opionions as I am leaning towards not liable to make payments of rent and if he insists she is then its contrived to take advantage of the scheme as he is also treating her like a squatter?

    #124963
    Andy Thurman
    Keymaster

    I think your landlord has a point. He is within his rights to pursue eviction while charging for use & occupation.

    #124972
    churdle
    Participant

    He says that since march she was a tenant but from when the new squatters legislation was inroduced from September 2012 he considers her a squatter as he says that she obtained access to the property in March by deception.

    #124975
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    I am not sure I agree with Andy. The fact that squatting is a criminal offence makes this a very different issue. Its like an unauthorised overdraft with the bank against a bank robbery. You pay interest on the first, serve time on the second. Its the same really.

    Mind you, this person cannot be a true squatter. The police would arrest her immediately.

    #124976
    churdle
    Participant

    The police have refused to investigate on the grounds that she us a tenant. Yet the L/L is, as he puts it ‘appealing’ their decision not to do so. I personally have had reservations about this landlord for some time, given his questionable management of tenants. He assumes that just because a person chooses to claim HB then they must be ‘vulnerable’ and not likely to pay him any rent and he assumes this at the point that he gives them a tenancy; therefore he must be paid HB. He also rewarded a tenant that actually paid him an amount of rent themselves by buying them a flat screen TV!!

    #124981
    petedavies
    Participant

    I’m not convinced that your claimant is a trespasser (criminal or otherwise) and, to be honest the definition of the new offence (Squatting in a Residential Building) has more holes in it than the average mosquito net. I will be astonished to see succesful prosecutions with any regularity once the initial hype has worn off. More importantly certain acts of trespass were potentially criminal offences well before the Legal Aid Act became law (e.g. Vagrancy Act of 18somethingorother) and we have never concerned ourselves with the differentiation before (well, I haven’t anyway!). I see no reason to treat this differently just because it is a supposedly clearer and has received a fair amount of press coverage.

    Without a change to R12 I think you will find it almost impossible to argue that the payments are not in consequence of occupying the dwelling as a home.

    You may be able to revise an awarding decision following a conviction but I think even that would be difficult.

    #124984
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    Certainly in my area the number of actions taken by the police has increased dramatically…and this is starting to increase street homeless.

    #124987
    petedavies
    Participant

    Possibly because s144 also amended PACE to give a clearly defined power of entry and arrest? and the popular press heralded it as a new beginning. Did the police actions lead to convictions or merely the displacement of the offenders (which I suspect was the point behind this piece of legislation anyway)

    #124989
    peterdelamothe
    Keymaster

    I dont think the police are interested in prosecutions except where there is damage; mainly just moved them on and warned them that next time…

    Some old timers wont really mind arrest at this cold time of year but the young have rather more to lose.

    #124990
    petedavies
    Participant

    That makes sense – chuck criminal damage (or almost any other offence) into the mix and prosecution becomes a whole lot easier. I’ll bet none of the prosecutions have been under s144? Although, call me a cynic if you must, the power of entry/arrest will be incredibly handy when the benefits changes lead to a major increase in homelessness.

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