s144. Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012
With effect from the 1st September 2012, the law in England and Wales on squatting in residential properties has become much stronger. It has always been a criminal offence to squat in someone’s home and property owners could also bring civil actions to remove squatters – but the process of achieving possession has often been long and complicated.
The new law is expected to speed up the process of possession and for the first time the law allows the Police to enter the premises and remove anyone suspected of squatting. Any squatters successfully prosecuted face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment. However the law is as yet untried, possible loopholes have already been identified for example where a tenant legally occupying the property invites someone in to the property who subsequently takes up residency and the law doesn’t include commercial properties. It should also be remembered that a tenant lawfully in the premises, who fails to leave at the end of a tenancy, is not classed as a squatter and the new law has not changed this. (Squatting is already illegal in Scotland and the property owner can eject squatters without serving notice or applying to a court for an eviction order). For more information you may like to visit:- http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/WhereYouLive/Derelictbuildingsandsquatters/DG_10022452How Does This Affect Insurance Property Owners Insurance – The problems associated with vacant properties and damage caused by squatters has not changed, but it has been suggested that the risk has become greater for commercial premises, now that residential properties have greater protection from this new law. Insurers are still able to write vacant property risks but it is now more important than ever to capture information on the following:-
- Details of the physical protections at the premises
- Details of any fire/burglar alarms, especially signalling, to whom and method of response
- Frequency of internal and external site inspections
- Removal of combustible materials from the premises and surrounding area.
- Future plans for the premises, including refurbishment, demolition letting or sale
- How long the premises are to be unoccupied.
Legal Expenses Insurance – The need for this cover and many property policies now automatically include the costs associated with the removal of squatters as a basic minimum, remains. This notice therefore simply acts as a timely reminder to double check that the cover exists and that the limit of indemnity provided remains adequate. Article by Paul Brooks, Sales Manager at Oasis Property Insurance Services Ltd. Contact:- Telephone 07585 125333 Email email@example.com www.oasispropertyinsurance.com Oasis Property Insurance Services Ltd is a specialist Property Owner insurance broker. Authorised and regulated by the FSA.
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