News
Features
ART[icle]S
Creative
Visual
Home » Alternative Issue, Viewpoint

Viewpoint – Alternative: Squatting Faces its Death Blow

Submitted by on March 5, 2013 – 9:07 amNo Comment

Co-authored with Christian Jensen.

A new campaign will try and make squatting completely illegal. In September 2012, squatting in a residential location, the act of living in a building without paying rent, was made illegal. But now the government is considering extending this to all squatting.

Mike Weatherly, Conservative MP, is one of the strongest proponents of the new campaign: “Some squatters have got nothing to do with homelessness. They are basically anarchists who want rent-free accommodation. I don’t mind people having alternative views on life and living the way they want to, but they can’t take what doesn’t belong to them and rob people of their property.”

Historically squatters were protected by the Squatters’ Right Act, part of the 1977 Criminal law act which allowed people to live in a building until the legal owner showed proof of ownership and request them to leave. Before then squatting had been a common occurrence, particularly in London after the WW2 bombings had left many people homeless and many homes without owners.

Using candles to heat a radiator in a London squat.


Since London became the choice for the 2012 Olympics politicians and the police heightened their efforts to “clean up” London and stamp out squatters. This has closed down many old social centres, large squats used for meetings and in some cases the public has attacked the groups or damaged their homes.

The DA collective, an art group known for turning large residential buildings into living pieces of art was disbanded in October 2008. The Rampart near Aldgate, formerly the largest centre in London was evicted in October 2009 with police using tasers and dogs, and the Freedom Bookshop, an anarchist outlet, firebombed last month.

Despite these setbacks there still is a big squatting community. Myk Zetlin from the Advisory Service for Squatters that highlights the situation from the squatters’ perspective said: “A lot of people are squatting without knowing the law change or much about the law in general. There are people coming from around the world all the time who still think it’s a civil matter and don’t consider the problems. This will continue for some time. We have seen the first person going to jail, someone who definitely wasn’t part of a political squatting community.”

Squatting has always been a controversial issue as some chose to do it as a political protest while others have no choice to do so or sleep rough. Squatting has had a negative image in the media in the last decade as many squats have created problems for the owners.

But Marie ,not real name, a former squatter who has also acted as legal guardian for many buildings disagree with the illegalisation as a solution, she said: “People are not going to stop squatting, even if the councils think they can change the situation by making it illegal it won’t matter. If you do not provide affordable housing for all there will always be squatters. But most of the narrative is fear mongering created by right-wing media. For every “squat from hell” there are probably a hundred that aren’t newsworthy.”

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.