Squatting is when someone knowingly enters a residential building as a trespasser and lives there, or intends to live there.
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.
A tenant who enters a property with the permission of the landlord, but who falls behind with rent payments, is not a squatter.
Although squatting a non-residential building or land isn’t in itself a crime, trespassers on non-residential property may be committing other crimes.
It’s normally a crime for a person to enter private property without permission and refuse to leave when the owner asks.
In certain circumstances, it may also be a crime if someone doesn’t leave land when they’ve been directed to do so by the police or council, or if they don’t comply with a repossession order.