Squatting in a residential property is now a criminal offence. Squatters can be arrested by the police. If convicted by a court, a squatter can be sent to prison for up to 6 months, fined up to £5,000, or both.
You cannot be convicted of squatting if you:
- are squatting in commercial premises
- are a tenant or licensee remaining in a property after the tenancy or licence has ended
- entered the property genuinely believing you were a tenant – for example, if a bogus letting agent rented you a property they had no right to
- are a Gypsy or Traveller living on an unauthorised site.
It is illegal to get into a property by breaking in or damaging windows and doors and you could be arrested even if the damage is minimal.
Squatters have a right to be connected to utilities such as gas, electricity and water, but using them without contacting the supplier first is illegal.