Am a relative newcomer to SE1 - I've just moved into a flat off Blackfriar's Road. Looking forward to becoming a part of the community - it seems really nice and friendly round here so far.
I'm hoping you longer term residents will be able to help me. I'm a journalist and I've been asked to write an article on squatting. I need to find some squatters to interview and am not averse to writing a letter to any and sticking it through the door with my contact details on. I just need to find the squats! I've heard a few mentioned locally but have no idea where they are.
The article wouldn't seek to judge or to take sides: I'm simply looking to get a glimpse of what life is like for squatters in the capital.
I think there may be some squatters in the buildings on St George's circus (I believe that they belong to the London South Bank University and have apparently been left derelict in order for them to decay to the point that they can demolish them and then completely redevelop/ sell the land to a developer?)
There are lots of handdrawn posters in the windows so I just assume there are...
I have a question about squatters. If we assume that they have entered the property by picking a lock, or removing a security screen, can the freeholder carry out a similar action when the squatters have popped out, and therefore reclaim the property and get rid of the squatters? Not something that affects me directly, but on the sign on the front of the Simon the Tanner pub it says that anyone now attempting to enter the property will be subject to legal action by the squatters!
In answer to your question, Andy, the squatter acquires 'adverse possession' having gained access to the property without force (if he uses force he commits the offence of trespass for which the police can remove although in practice this will need to be very quickly after the squatter has entered).
Although it is a bit of a grey area, the owner can take steps to remove the squatter "peacefully" - such a method might be for the owner to enter when he knows the squatters aren't there and take steps to secure the premises to prevent re-entry. However, no force can be used and, in the absence of them leaving voluntarily or the owner being able to 'outwit' them, the only option is to seek a possession order from the county court. The squatters can only then be evicted.