Currently squatters cannot be legally removed from a property in the UK without extensive and expensive court action, unlike other countries where the police can simply enter a property and forcibly remove those who have gained entry by whatever means to occupy the dwelling.
I would like to see the law changed to allow any property owner or rightful occupier be able to seek police assistance in forcibly removing squatters from the property in question, be it a residential or commercial property.
This I believe is a fundemental right for anyone who has legitimately set up a home to see that home being protected by the country that offers him or her protection under its laws.
However with the acute shortage of homes within the UK I believe that there is a case for people being able to occupy dwellings that have effectively been abandoned. But the owner, rightful occupier or an individual with legal control over the property (even if he or she has been asked to mind it for a friend or neigbour on a medium/long term basis) should at all times have the right to expect the squatter to leave immediately.
For example, where a property forms part of a deceased person's estate, the executor should have the right to expect the squatters to vacate immediately. However if the qualifying person does not make the request for the squatter to leave then the squatters should be allowed to remain.
Where several people fit the qualifyng person criteria (for example a number of people own it or would otherwise live in it), I would advocate that only one of those people would have to ask the squatters to move out. The law wouldn't require all or a majority of those people.
Under this proposal, it would be a criminal offence for a squatter to remain in a property once the qualifying person has asked them to vacate it. Currently it is seen as a civil matter and eviction though the county courts is often necessary.
I would propose the following sequence of events should take place when the qualifying person wants the squatters to move out.
1) Verbal request, maybe with a written statement to the effect that an individual with a qualifying interest in the property now requires the squatter(s) to vacate with immediate effect.
2) Once the request has been made, continuing occupation by the squatter now becomes a criminal offence. A new offence would be added to the statute books
3) In the case where a squatter refuses then that person can call upon the police. Once the police have satisfied themselves that the person making the request is a qualifying person then they should have the power and be expected to act. One assumes that the police would again give the squatter(s) the chance to leave or forcibly remove, arrest and charge them with that offence.
This process to hand the home back to the rightful person would take seconds, minutes or perhaps hours, not weeks or even months.
This proposal would guarantee the following.
1) The right of every man and woman to have a safe and secure home exclusively for their and their families' occupation.
2) The right for socially responsible squatters to occupy properties that are at the time of occupation effectively abandoned.
3) The right of owners or those managing previously abandoned properties to expect to have their property back with immediate effect.
Why is this idea important?
It is a fundemental right of each and every individual to be secure in his or her own home. The law as it stands denies rightful owners, occupiers or those wishing to have control over their property those basic human rights.
However, there is a case for social squatting where properties that are effectively abandoned can be put to use to provide a much needed home for many who would otherwise be homeless.