Magazine article The Spectator

Barometer

Magazine article The Spectator

Barometer

Article excerpt

Squatters' rights

A judge has described squatting as 'good for society' and called for lists of empty homes to be made available to an agency for squatters, while the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, is attempting to strengthen the law against squatting. How do laws on the subject vary across Europe?

BRITAIN

Breaking and entering is a criminal offence, but if you can enter a building without breaking in, it is not a criminal offence to occupy it. The owner must obtain an eviction order through the civil courts.

FRANCE

Squatting is illegal, but squatters can apply to the state to have empty homes requisitioned, and may not be evicted during the winter.

GERMANY

Squatting is illegal, and Berlin's last openly squatted property was cleared last year. But many former squatters now pay some rent to the state to occupy abandoned buildings.

NETHERLANDS

Until last October, it was legal to squat properties that had been empty for more than a year. Squatting is now a crime.

SPAIN

Squatting has been illegal since 1996, though there are still squats which police have been slow to clear. …

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