​It’s a landlord’s biggest fear and a very real threat in property lettings. Squatting is becoming more organised, with many squatters using social networking to communicate the whereabouts of empty properties.

It’s a landlord’s biggest fear yet a real threat in property lettings. Squatting is becoming more and more organised with many squatters turning to social networking to communicate the whereabouts of empty properties.

What is a squatter?

A squatter is a person who occupies a premises owned by another person, without the owner’s permission or has any legal right to do so.
What are squatter’s rights?

If you try to remove a squatter from your premises you might find they reffer to Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977.
This states that it is illegal to threaten or use violence to enter a property where someone is present and opposes entry.

The Ministry of Justice have announced that it is looking to make squatting illegal by 2012. If passed, the new law will mean home owners and property owners will not have the usual lengthy process of civil court action to evict squatters.

How to prevent squatters from entering properties:

• Securely lock your property at all times.
• Install a security alarm system.
• Look at ways a squatter may enter your property such as weakness in your properties security
• If the property is unoccupied for long periods always disconnect utility services to prevent water damage or fire risk, which will also deter squatters from staying
• Try to avoid leaving the property unoccupied for long periods of time, and if you can’t yourself ask a neighbour or family member to call in