The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 creates a new offence of squatting in a residential building (Section 144).
The Act received Royal Assent on 1 May 2012. There is currently no date set for when Section 144 will come in to force.
Under the act a criminal offence will be committed when
- A person is in a residential building as a trespasser, having entered it as a trespasser
- The person knows or ought to have known that he or she is a trespasser
- The person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.
An offence is not committed if the person is holding over after the end of a lease or license (even if they have left the property and returned).
Section 144 does not apply to commercial properties.