Commercial property owners across the UK are being warned to be on the look-out for potential squatters in their empty or infrequently used premises, following a change in the law, according to Peter Knight, director of Manchester-based commercial property managers Knight Site Solutions.
Over the last month squatting in a residential property has become a criminal act and this has already seen some squatters target other types of property such as vacant business space for a place to call ‘home’.
Peter Knight, director of Manchester-based commercial property managers Knight Site Solutions said: “The advice being given by groups which support squatting now indicates that they are looking to actively target commercial property and their removals from it remains primarily a civil matter and therefore the responsibility of the property owner, who will need to take legal action to recover the property.
“This is both time consuming and costly to do and whilst the intention behind the new law was to protect home owners, it has pushed the problem towards the business community and there is in many areas a lot of empty commercial property around for squatters to choose from.”
Peter cited a potential scenario of an empty retail unit or public house with a flat above it. Squatters could legally claim not to be living in the residential part of the property and the Police would be completely powerless to intervene.
The Ministry of Justice has insisted it will seek to improve the current civil remedies of such cases as well as the enforcement of existing criminal offences made by squatters. As yet, no timescale has been placed on this and landlords are therefore urged to remain vigilant in the coming months.
Peter Knight can be contacted via www.knightss.co.uk