Resist the Criminalisation of Squatting
On 13th of July 2011, the government published a consultation paper:"Options
for dealing with Squatting". The consultation period ends on 5th October
2011 so we need to act NOW to be heard.
The proposals outlined would affect a much wider community than those who
identify as squatters;
- tenants would be at risk from unscrupulous landlords,
- worker and student occupations would be illegal, as would peace and climate camps.
- Police discretion is considered as a way of determining who is or is not a squatter
- violent and forcible eviction of squatters would be legal
- Anyone who used a squatted social centre or venue could be labelled a squatter, regardless of whether they actually lived there.
And this is the last of our ancestral rights to go.
For hundreds of years, we have had the right to live in abandoned buildings. Just as the government took away our land and rights to use common land in the past, now they are attacking our right to shelter.
In 2009 there were 725,000 empty homes – the government estimate the number of squatters in England and Wales at 20,000: squatting is not the problem, it is part of the solution.
We have a problem fighting this. The consultation paper pretends to be
speaking for the normal, respectable person although it is clear enough that
the interests being promoted are those of big developers and property
The negative images of squatters spread in the media in recent months make
it hard for us to convince people that this is not a 'squatter' consultation
but an attack on the human right to shelter that will impact most heavily on
the most vulnerable people in society. These are standard divide and rule
free festival at stonehenge june 1st 2012
At a time when empty homes out-number squatters by 4 to 1 one has to ask who are the criminals - at least morally. So, criminalise squatters and what then? Forcibly throw them out and lock them up at huge cost to tax-payers? I think not. It is not the way of a caring society to allow multiple-property owners, many of whom can afford the kind of accountants to avoid thme paying tax, to maintain multiple properties and deny shelter to those who need it. I can understand the fears of those who have no experience of squatters - a good deal of education is needed about the benefits that genuine squatters bring. Many of the squatters I know actually seek to improve the state of derelict buildings, and working with local authorities and voluntary groups, encourage community involvement and in set up of creative and educational projects. Many of them are actually in properties with the say-so of the landlords (as they provided free security for the landlord's property), and often the landlord finds the occupants another building to look after when one is ready to be sold.
The Big Society has to include all of us - not just the rich and employable.
As for ridiculous comments below such as 'squatting is illegal' (er, no, that's the point of this campaign suggestion) and 'it encourages drugs and crime' (I can only think that this comment comes from the lack of knowledge i mention above - as if 'normal' nice people who don't have to squat don't take drugs ROFLMAO!)
No way squatting is illigall and encourges drug abuse and crime
Danny Cooley commented
I don't really have a problem with their being some law that stops people from occupying someone else's home (that being the property where someone has a legal right of residence, not an unoccupied property). As far as I'm concerned this is not 'squatting'. There are a small minority that indulge in this and giving all the other squatters a real bad name (and the right wing press are having a field day). Yes, ... I used to squat and know the difference between what I'd call genuine squatters and people who take the piss.
Maybe one strategy would be to come up with some ruling that allows people who have genuinely had their home occupied (doesn't matter if there rich or not) to promptly regain their property. So the Tories/right wing cheerleaders can satisfy themselves that 'justice had been done' and the real squatters can carry on with what they have always been doing. Once the piss takers have been taken out of the equation, the argument can shift towards the real crimes: hundreds of thousands of empty buildings, rigged property markets and Planning Regs that are badly out of date, selling off public assets on the cheap to vested interests, ....
There needs to be a clear difference between abandoned buildings, rented properties, and properties that are actually somebody's home.
Peace to all (except the piss takers!)
We have over 10,000 empty flats in Liverpool
francis mcclean commented
i'm almost 54 years old & have been squatting for the past ten years in london. this is not through choice; i'd much rather have the security of knowing i'm not about to be evicted any time soon. i can't even get my name on a waiting list, as i "have no london connections", i.e. employment or family. so it's either go the hostel route, which anyone in their right mind wouldn't even consider, sleep on the streets or squat. you see mr. cameron, i squat because it's the only recourse i have. countless others are in the same position.....the government -which weren't even elected- had better get this one right, or i can foresee it getting quite messy.
(as an aside, in the 10 years i've been squatting, i've NEVER ONCE heard of someone squatting a place that's already being occupied by someone else. NOT ONCE......utter bullshit fear-mongering tactics.
If this law passes it could be used to evict tenants who get behind in their rent....
The police treat people differently depending on whether they are owners, renters or homeless.
Bob Baker commented
It’s very important to oppose this iniquitous law. It would criminalise countless homeless people, political activists, trade union occupations and would be open to abuse by crooked landlords. It would also place unwelcome responsibilities on the police to become involved in deciding on the status of people accused of squatting. It is unjust and unworkable.
Bob Baker Director of The Simon Community.
Hester Lilley commented
Our government says that it aims to reduce the number of people receiving housing benefit, but the numbers will undoubtedly spike if squatting is criminalised, as squatters will be facing homelessness. This new law is being presented as a way to tackle squatting, as if squatting were a lifestyle choice rather than a necessity. The government should instead be looking at why squatting is a necessity for some and not for others. Meanwhile, it could help resolve the housing shortage by encouraging UK landlords to rent out the vast number of homes that they prefer to keep empty (725,000 empty homes in 2009 see: http://www.emptyhomes.com/usefulresources/stats/statistics.html).
Local councils need to exercise their powers to commandeer empty, neglected properties and make them available as homes for the most vulnerable in society. Many landlords are unwilling to run the risk of letting their properties to people receiving benefits for fear of unpaid rent. Under pressure from the council, landlords could be persuaded to rent their properties to those in need, via housing associations. This would make everyone a winner- buildings would be used, not neglected and therefore less likely to be squatted; landlords could generate income while providing affordable rents via the housing associations who in turn would be able to carry out more good work without having to buy properties.
Our government is again failing to get the heart of the matter. Instead, it is focused only on the narrow interests of large property developers, while casually eroding a fundamental human right - shelter.
I squatted in a large house in Crystal Palace Park Road in 1976 - along with a community of about 40+ people who were squatting in a row of empty houses in the street - after Camden Council gave consent to a self=formed squatters association to occupty the premises. As a result, the empty buildings had 'live-in 'caretakers and were looked after, whereas empty there is no doubt they would have been vandalised. Banning squatters is just another example of the depth of police state mentality prevalent in the UK today.
Free the land! Save the squats and resist the oppressers!
Luke Emery commented
S.O.S - Save Our Squats
antoine triquet commented
power to the people
Rangoo dan commented
So if you haven't paid then you cannot rest. To be capable of paying, you must act as you are directed. You will be directed by those whom have the money printed. You will be directed to use force against those whom cannot pay. Generate social currency.
Eco Roger commented
criminalise one off houses instead
The big problem that governments have with the laws on squatting is that all property laws are based on squatting.
There are still more empty homes than homeless people and councils do not use the legislation that enables them to take over and rent out empty homes.
Housing association are mostly terrible at providing housing, their managers are paid fabulous salaries and lavish pensions. They refuse to take over empty homes even those newly built, on the grounds that they do not meet their build standards.
These useless organisations should be shut down and the housing stock given back to councils who at least are under some democratic control.
Jacqueline Hickman commented
The homeless are already disillusioned and disenfranchised. This will simply make them more so. Doesn't this Big Society WANT to help people who are struggling? Squatters do not harm anyone or damage property; they are simply recycling discarded property and reducing homelessness. WHY criminalise them?