Since new legislation to criminalise squatting in residential premises came into force (Squatters Blog) we have seen an increase in the number of enquiries from property owners concerned about their business premises as it appears empty office blocks, warehouses and pubs are becoming the most attractive options to squatters.
Websites that advise squatters on their rights have already started to post new legal notices for commercial property squatters detailing their rights for them to display outside the premises.
Squatting in commercial premises remains a civil offence often requiring the issue of court proceedings to secure an eviction.
The new legislation rendering squatting in residential premises a criminal offence was brought in to provide a powerful means to recover residential property as there was a growing public concern about squatters in residential premises. However, policing minister Damian Green is now facing renewed calls for the offence to be extended to commercial premises as the financial consequences and interruption it can cause businesses are becoming more significant. Mr Green has said that the government recognises that squatting can impact on commercial property owners and will continue to monitor the situation closely. Unfortunately, for the moment commercial property owners must wait and see if the government decides to act upon these growing concerns.