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The United Kingdom (UK) is planning on making squatting a criminal offense beginning September, 2012. Squatting is currently only a civil offence, which many in the real estate industry feel makes it more prevalent and harder to prevent. The Landlord Syndicate has lobbied for the change for some time, growing more vocal about it as cases of squatting increased during the period of the Eurozone debt crisis. Although squatters will now face a £5,000 fine and up to six months in jail for taking up residence in another person’s property, landlords are advised to help avoid it by keeping units occupied and monitoring properties frequently.  For more on this continue reading the following article from Property Wire.

The Landlord Syndicate, a network of companies providing a complete support centre for UK landlords, has welcomed the news that squatting is to become a criminal offence as of September.

Home owners, and particularly landlords whose properties are not always occupied, can breathe a sigh of relief as reports have revealed the act of squatting, which is currently only a civil offence, will be made a criminal offence from 01 September 2012.
One member of The Landlord Syndicate who has fought for some time to enforce this law, even supporting a campaign presented to Parliament in April 2011, is Paul Shamplina, also founder of Landlord Action. ‘Squatting cases have been on the rise for some time now, many by organised gangs whom have travelled thousands of miles to engage in squatting knowing they will be protected by the law,’ he said.

‘It was only when some high profile cases hit the headlines that people sat up and took notice of the growing injustice on home owners. Squatters will now face up to a £5,000 fine and a six month prison sentence if they take up residence in another person’s property,’ he added.
But the Landlord Syndicate are warning landlords not to be complacent. ‘Enforcing a law does not mean that the activity of squatting will be eradicated, it just means there are tougher measures to deal with it which should prevent landlords and home owners having to enter into lengthy and expensive legal battles,’ said Shamplina.

‘That means landlords still need to avoid void periods and ensure they invest in good preventative security measures,’ he added.

This article was republished with permission from Property Wire.