Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there, or intends to live there. This is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’.
Squatting in residential buildings (like a house or flat) is illegal. It can lead to 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine or both.
Anyone who originally enters a property with the permission of the landlord is not a squatter. For example, if you’re renting a property and fall behind with rent payments you’re not squatting if you continue to live there.
Although squatting in non-residential building or land isn’t in itself a crime, it’s a crime to damage the property.
It’s usually a crime not to leave land or property when you’re instructed to do so by:
- the owner
- the police
- the council
- a repossession order