Redbridge police offers guidance for concerned residents on squatting
Redbridge police has today moved to reassure residents that it takes the issue of squatting seriously.
With Redbridge councillors due to debate the problem on Thursday, officers have offered guidance to worried residents on what is within their powers.
While saying the problem is often a civil matter, a police statement said all individual cases brought to them will be looked into and allegations of criminal matters investigated.
Police can take action if informed as soon as squatters enter an empty building because it is illegal to gain access by damaging windows or doors.
Similarly, if the property owner lives in the home and returns to find it taken over by squatters, police can arrest the trespassers.
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The issue is more complicated if a new property owner is moving into an empty home occupied by squatters.
In some circumstances, the owner has to give the squatters a certificate proving their ownership before the police can make any arrests.
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For some homes, even this course of action will not be possible and homeowners will be advised to pursue the matter through the civil courts to gain an eviction.
Eight properties occupied by squatters in Valentines ward were “successfully dealt with in this manner”, according to the police.
Campaigner Susan Dixon, of Coventry Road, Ilford, who will speak to the council on Thursday, welcomed the guidance. She said: “At last something tangible that can help residents with information in one place.”
The guidance also offers advice on preventing susceptible homes from being taken over.
It offers tips to residents concerned about an empty property including contacting the council; asking the estate agent to consider removing a For Sale sign; advising owners to put nets and curtains up and keeping the front garden tidy.
The full guidance can be viewed under the news section of www.content.met.police.uk/Borough/Redbridge.