Monday, June 29, 2009

Squatters in the MP's house

The news just gets worse for MP couple the Keens. Their empty home has at least been reoccupied but not, I suspect, in the manner they would have wished. A group of squatters has taken residence and they don’t appear to feel restrained about telling the world.

This now leaves the Keens with a dilemma. Do they evict them as they can quite easily by getting a court order, or leave them be, and try and reach an accommodation with them?

Eviction is fairly easy to do. They just need to get an order from the court and if the squatters don’t leave they are committing an offence and can be forcibly removed. In most cases this works and the squatters leave quietly. Given that most squatters are looking for somewhere to live it is unlikely they will return. It would probably be a good idea to beef up the security and if the property is going to lie empty for any length of time this could be expensive.

Reaching accommodation with squatters is a pretty pragmatic choice for property owners too. Licences can be drawn up easily which gives both the squatters (now licences) limited right of occupation and gives the owner control of the property. If the property would otherwise stay empty for any length of time this can be quite sensible. With more to loose, most licensees treat the property well and generally the property is less problematic for the owner than if it were empty.

So in most cases my advice would be. If you need the property back soon evict the squatters, but if you don’t, consider reaching agreement with them.
But then this isn’t a normal case. The squatters have a point to make, and what’s more plenty of people will sympathise with it, even if they don’t approve of the method. Evict them and the Keens’ will provide a great media spectacle as squatters are dragged screaming from the house and then have to board the place up like a military installation to prevent more squatters getting in again.
Reaching agreement with them might be counterintuitive, but it would hardly get the Daily Mail off their backs. Hmmm.. such are the dilemmas for those who leave their properties empty.


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