It’s all in the timing…

a pile of newspapers

Pile of lies?

Squatter season is officially open. Over the past fortnight, you may have noticed a ramping up of anti-squatting stories in newspaper reports and opinion columns. This is no coincidence, in fact the timing is almost comical.

These reports are part of a concerted effort by certain sections of the media and government to ensure victory on clause 130 – the clause that would criminalise squatting – when it gets read in the House of Lords next Wednesday.

Here are a just few of them:

And what does get reported is almost as laughable as what gets left out. It is almost always the case in these stories that the houses in question are either second homes or otherwise empty; with an eerie uniformity, that is never mentioned until the final or penultimate paragraph – if at all.

These are, or course, just opinion pieces and, even where they present themselves as reports, contain almost nothing in the way of fact. Journalists are entitled to their funny little opinions – it’s what they get paid for – but if you want yours to be more informed, here are some pertinent, referenced facts that you should hold on to:

160 Property lawyers and legal experts recently accused both media and politicians of deliberately misleading the public.

Ordinary homeowners have nothing to fear – the Law Society has repeatedly reaffirmed that the law is on their side.

Forget ‘lifestyle squatters': Crisis have claimed that up to 40% of homeless people have used squatting as a way of avoiding the horrors of rough sleeping. Do we really want to criminalise them?

According to the government’s own figures: there are 720,000 empty properties in the UK and 279,000 of these have been empty for 6 months or longer. The government thinks there are around 20,000 squatters in the UK: for every single squatter, there are about 14 residential properties that have been left empty for 6 months or more.