English law has finally caught up with Scottish Law, where it has been illegal to squat since 1865.
As of 1st September 2012, residential squatting is punishable by the Crown through the criminal justice system. The new rule has been introduced via the statutory instrument formally enacting section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
This means that instead of taking the matter to the courts and potentially waiting weeks, or even months, to obtain eviction, victims of squatting can phone the police and have squatters arrested. The minimum penalty has been reported at 6 months in jail, a £5000 fine, or potentially even both.
The Statutory Instrument has been introduced to protect home owners from the misery, stress, cost and incredible hassle of squatters. Essentially, if a person is living in a residential property without permission at the date of 1st September 2012, he or she will be committing a criminal offence.