Does this liberty of voting and evicting, however, translate when faced with real-world squatters in non-residential properties?
Squatters and Their Rights
Up until recently, squatting in England and Wales was generally viewed as a civil, rather than criminal matter. In September 2012, a new piece of legislation made it a criminal offence to trespass in residential properties with the intention of living there. However, the legislation only covers residential properties, so what do you do if squatters gain access to a commercial or non-residential property?
Squatting in non-residential buildings is still regarded as a civil matter and resolution usually means resorting to the civil courts. In essence – it is not a criminal offence for someone to enter a non-residential property without the owner’s consent or authority.
The good news for property owners is that it is still not easy for a trespasser to acquire ownership of a property, or “squatter’s rights” as per common parlance. A squatter can only gain title to a property if the squatter has excluded the world at large from the property, including the owner, for a period of 10 years (12 years if dealing with unregistered land).
Squatters and Your Rights
As mentioned above, squatting in a non-residential property still isn’t looked upon as a criminal offence. The police take can action on your behalf if squatters commit other crimes when entering or residing in your property. These can include: