Squatting Now a Crime but Owners Could Still Lose Property
Squatting is now a crime in England & Wales, but you could still lose your property to squatters.
After squatting was made a criminal offence by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), it was widely thought that squatters who had been in residence for a long time could no longer claim traditional "squatters rights", or adverse possession, as a criminal should not be able to profit from their crime.
However, a High Court case decided in May this year has indicated otherwise. The judge in Best v The Chief Land Registrar took the view that LASPO dealt with evicting squatters, and did not deal with the issue of adverse possession. The Court seems to have taken the view that the public interest might be better served by permitting criminal acts that have been undertaken for a considerable period of time without objection to become lawful, and to permit somebody making good use of a property where the owner could not be identified.
This means that whilst owners of property occupied by squatters may find it easier to evict them, they could still run the risk of losing their property if they don't take action in time.
Samuels specialise in dealing with disputes of this nature and can advise you about any problems you may have with squatters, or any other Landlord and Tenant issues.
Contact us for a free, no obligation assessment of your matter.