We reported on on 1 September 2012 that squatting in a residential building has become an offence under Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (“the Act”). Those found to be squatting in residential premises can now be fined a maximum of £5,000, imprisoned for up to six months, or both.

Generally those involved in squatting take the trouble to understand the law with regard to their unlawful occupation. They will be aware that commercial premises are not covered by the Act, so there is a real concern that they will now deliberately target commercial premises in preference to residential premises. Landlords of empty commercial premises – including shops, offices, light industrial, warehousing, or other commercial units should take steps to secure their premises and inspect them on a regular basis to prevent unlawful occupations taking place

Contact Julian Johnstone, Partner, and head of Druces LLP’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team or Benjamin Lomer, Senior Associate for more information or in the event that you have an issue with unlawful occupiers of residential or commercial property.

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