Mike Weatherley, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade, along with Mike Stimpson, Chair of the Southern Landlords Association, has hand-delivered a personal letter to the Prime Minister calling for anti-squatting legislation to be extended to commercial properties. This follows Mike’s success in criminalising squatting in residential properties.
Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 made it a criminal offence to squat in a residential property from 1st September 2012. Unfortunately, a knock-on consequence is that squatters are now targeting commercial properties, which are not covered by the new legislation.
Mike was instrumental in the criminalisation of squatting in residential properties. As a consequence of Mike’s role in passing the new law, squatters have led a vitriolic campaign against the Member of Parliament on Twitter and routinely call for Mike’s death. A whole website has even been created to monitor Mike’s death.
Commenting, Mike said: “I was delighted that Mike Stimpson from the Southern Landlords Association could join me in delivering my letter to the Prime Minister. For too long squatters have run roughshod over the wishes of local communities. The law criminalising squatting in residential properties has been a real success. Now we need to extend it to commercial.”
Mike added: “The Prime Minister was very supportive of the initial legislation so I am confident that he will back criminalising squatting outright.”
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Prime Minister
RE: CRIMINALISING SQUATTING IN COMMERCIAL PROPERTIES
I write as Member of Parliament for Hove and Portslade to ask for your support for the law to be extended to protect commercial properties from squatters, following the recent criminalisation of squatting in residential properties.
As I am sure that you are aware, last year, Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing & Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 made it a criminal offence to squat in a residential property. While the law has been a tremendous success, the consequence has been that squatters are now deliberately targeting commercial properties.
A salient example of this was seen within my own constituency just two months after the law had come into effect when a bunch of squatters broke into a former school that was just about to be let as a refurbished office suite. The squatters caused significant misery and distress and left an appalling mess after themselves.
I am pleased that our colleague the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, has shown a tough approach to squatters and hope that you will be able to convey your support for all properties to be protected from squatters.
I thank you very much in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter.
MIKE WEATHERLEY MP