Surge in squatting

New analysis reveals the nation’s ‘squatspots’

England and Wales saw an 8 per cent rise in court claims to evict squatters or trespassers last year

England and Wales saw an 8 per cent rise in court claims to evict squatters or trespassers last year

England and Wales saw an 8 per cent rise in court claims to evict squatters or trespassers last year, according to new analysis1 of official data by the AA’s Home Emergency Response Service as part of its research series “AA State of the Nation’s Homes", which also reveals increases of up to 163 per cent in individual county courts.

The AA’s analysis shows that the nation’s ‘squatspot’ is Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and Family Courts, which had to deal with 3,010 landlord possession claims against squatters or trespassers that led to possession orders in 2011. This is followed by Edmonton County Court, which saw 2,645 cases last year, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year.

London saw the biggest increase of any region last year, with a 16 per cent rise in the number of cases.  These included that of Guy Ritchie, whose £6m Georgian home was occupied by squatters who turned it into a ‘free school’. The capital’s courts saw 26,690 landlord possession claims leading to possession orders last year, compared to 18,785 in the South East and 16,225 in the Midlands.

The nation’s top 10 ‘squatspots’

(Number of landlord possession claims leading to possession orders in 2011 and percentage change 2010 to 2011)

  • Birmingham Civil Justice Centre and Family Courts 3,010 (+2.73%)
  • Edmonton County Court  2,645 (+24.76%)
  • Bow County Court 2,600 (+9.70%)
  • Willesden County Court  2,490 (+26.40%)
  • Lambeth County Court  2,380  (-8.29%)
  • Clerkenwell and Shoreditch County Court 2,340 (+18.18%)
  • Manchester County Court  2,150 (+29.13%)
  • Croydon County Court    2,115    (+25.15%)
  • Liverpool Civil and Family Court  1,805  (+16.45%)
  • Nottingham County Court 1,485 (-9.17%)

The process of removing someone from their property can prove to be a time-consuming and costly nightmare for property owners

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response

Comment

Tom Stringer, Head of AA Home Emergency Response, said: “Some parts of the country have seen a significant increase in cases where people have had to resort to the courts to evict people from their property. The process of removing someone from their property can prove to be a time-consuming and costly nightmare for property owners and if they don’t know their rights they could end up on the wrong side of the law so it’s important that they get legal advice."

Advice

It is important to ensure that locks and windows are secure, and properties are not left vulnerable, even for the shortest period.

At the most extreme, if you are worried about leaving a property empty, there are companies that deal with vacant property protection they you may consider using.

If you are intending to be away, check:

  • window and door locks
  • alarm system if installed
  • garage and shed doors are secure and in good working order

(14 August 2012)