Global Guardians on the Squatting Law S144
Posted on August 25, 2013.Global Guardians Management Ltd has recently been made aware of a large group of squatters targeting empty properties to hold squat parties in opposition to the first year’s anniversary of anti-squatting law S144. We would like to warn all property owners with vacant buildings to be aware that on the 1st September 2013 your empty properties will be targeted by squatters. As a Property Guardian company our role is to protect empty buildings from anti-social behaviour and theft of metal from the property. By placing our live-in guardians in a vacant property it is brought back into use for low-cost accommodation and squatters cannot declare squatting rights because all of the guardians live on licence agreements for the shared space. During our time as vacant property experts we have come across many different types of squatters and we have taken over many buildings that were formally squatted. The majority of the properties we have witnessed had been treated badly by squatters e.g. a former office block in Borough that hosted a Margaret Thatcher ‘Death Party’ came complete with rotting food and faeces in the rooms left by the squatters, a former office block in Kingston that had all of the copper pipework stolen from the property and a former day centre in Charlton that had been stripped of every single electrical fitting, lead roofing and pipework and boilers. The damage caused to the properties has cost the property owners thousands of pounds to repair. The type of squatters who lived in these properties have caused malicious damage, which we have had to repair in order to bring the buildings back up to a habitable standard for property guardians to live in. Our licence fees are 50-60% cheaper than market prices for accommodation and we do provide heating, hot water, cold water, safe electrical systems, fridges, freezers, microwaves, mini-ovens and vacuum cleaners for the properties. Maintenance issues are dealt with quickly according to the priority scale of the problem. When we return a property to the owner we grant vacant possession and live the property in a better state than we took it over. Our guardians assist the local community by bringing the property back into life, using the local shops and even volunteering to help the local community. Although, we have met a small percentage of squatters who do look after the property in which they are squatting, the majority of squatters do cause damage, grief and problems to the property owner and the local community. The residential anti-squatting law S144 has not prevented the malicious damage caused by squatters. If anything we have witnessed an increase in metal theft and malicious damage in response to the law. As the website www.squatters.org.uk states: ‘We will not “demand our rights” or beg for the minimum, but take what we need.’ The squatters claim to be carrying out a service for the community by re-using empty properties but the living standards are often exceedingly hazardous to health. By comparison we will only take over management of an empty property if it is brought up to an acceptable safe standard. If not then we will advise the owner for a different solution.