A combine harvests a cereal crop

First prosecution for squatting

In a timely follow on to my blog of Tuesday 2 October about squatting in residential properties being made a criminal offence, PLC has today reported the first prosecution.

PLC reported that according to press reports, a squatter in a London & Quadrant housing association property has been prosecuted under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) which made it a criminal offence to squat in a residential property.

Alex Haigh, pleaded guilty to squatting and was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison.  Land and property owners can now refer to this as a positive precedent for future prosecutions under the new Act.

Comment: some commentators have suggested that this case was unusual in that the defendant immediately admitted squatting, they suggest it is more likely that squatters will claim they are party to a tenancy agreement with an unknown landlord and that they have been the victim of fraudulent letting.