Controversial legislation to outlaw squatting in England and Wales becomes active at midnight on 1 September.
Part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, the law is intended to make the police act in all cases where trespassers occupy residential property.
Although the law covers all structures built or adapted for residential use (possibly even caravans), it doesn't include land ancillary to buildings (eg gardens). Current tenants and tenants 'holding over' at the end of their agreement are also excluded.
According to a Ministry of Justice circular, the law will "protect landlords, second homeowners and local authorities who discover trespassers living in a residential building that they own or control even if no one was living there at the time the trespassers occupied the building."
A number of lawyers have commented on the legislation
saying the current law is adequate, with one stating that "the change
amounted to a ‘tax subsidy’ for landlords who leave their properties
unoccupied." The Nearlylegal blog provides an idea of how the law might work in practice.
Housing charities have spoken out against the law saying it will needlessly increase homelessness.