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The recent enforcement of section 144 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment Act 2012 on the 1st September 2012 has resulted in a decrease of squatters in residential properties.  However there has been an increase in squatters in commercial premises.

The above legislation does not currently cover this and this has led to calls for the law to be extended to cover commercial premises.

Presently if you discover a squatter in your premises you are unlikely to receive any assistance from the police without clear evidence that a criminal offence has been committed and the property owner will have no option but to seek to pursue court proceedings with the cost and delay that would follow on from this. Realistically, from start to finish several weeks could have elapsed after which damage could have occurred and the landowner losing income.  There are also considerations regarding insurance of the property and any obligations the landowner may have towards their Lender (if they have one).  

There does not seem to be any reason why residential property should get the protection and commercial property does not however the costs to carry out this change may mean that it is unlikely to occur any time soon.

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