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Squatting still an issue for commercial property

Squatting has been a criminal offence since September 2012 in the UK, but only in residential property. Currently, the law provides no protection for commercial property or non-residential buildings. Once a building has been occupied the removal of squatters is very difficult. When it comes to squatting, prevention is always better than cure.

The Government has indicated that it remains concerned about squatters who occupy commercial buildings. They suggest that the enforcement of existing criminal offences, such as criminal damage and burglary, should always be considered. However, there is no indication that the new residential squatter laws will be extended to commercial property any time soon. Preventing the problem in the first place is still the best course of action.

Precautions

Commercial property landlords should take sensible precautions to avoid the issues of squatters. Here are some of the things you should consider:

• Ensure that the vacant property is as secure as possible including external areas such as car parks and outbuildings. Pay special attention to the perimeter of the property
• Consider using barriers such as steel security screens
• CCTV cameras, alarms, and heavy duty locks all help to deter would be squatters
• If possible maintain good lighting around the property
• Inspect the property internally and externally regularly, including at night
• Remove any items of value
• Turn off utilities (where feasible)
• Seek legal advice as soon as possible

We appreciate that these precautions all come with costs attached but they are not likely to compare with the expense and inconvenience of removing squatters.

What to do next

We are experts in property insurance, including the risks associated with unoccupied properties and understand all the issues. So, if you’d like more information, or would like us to review your cover, please call our experts now.

Call 01789 761670

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