New law will ‘shut door’ on squatters

Squatters will face up to six months in prison and so-called squatters’ rights scrapped as it becomes a criminal offence in England and Wales tomorrow.

Ministers said the move would shut the door on squatters once and for all and help protect hard-working home owners.

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But campaigners warned that criminalising squatting in residential buildings would lead to an increase in some of the most vulnerable homeless people sleeping rough.

The introduction of the offence - which will carry a maximum sentence of up to six months in jail for persistent offenders, a £5,000 fine or both – follows a Government consultation on the issue last summer.

But homeless charity Crisis said the new law would criminalise vulnerable people, leaving them in prison or facing a fine they cannot pay.