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to think that squatting in abandoned buildings is a good idea?

(99 Posts)
BoojaBooja Thu 21-Jul-11 23:21:50

I used to live in a London borough where there seemed to be a lot of empty buildings. I'd lived there for years and would see buildings left to go to ruin through neglect. Two buildings became occupied by squatters (one was an old house and one was an ex-Post Office). They became lived in. The house suddenly had a garden at the front and was well kept.

On the bus one day I saw a group of people outside of the house with loads of things on the pavement, including a TV and other bits of furniture. On the way back, the people were gone and the windows were all boarded up. Someone had evicted them. Talking to a friend who worked at the council, it turned out that the house was owned by the council and they were squatters. Two years later (I then moved so don't know if this is still the case) the building was still empty, boarded up and covered in graffiti.

As far as I know, the squatters in the Post Office are still there. They'd certainly improved the look of the place, and were apparently taking care of it.

So, AIBU is thinking that a safe, empty building should be occupied if nobody else is living in there. When there are so many people living on the streets, isn't this a good thing?

scurryfunge Thu 21-Jul-11 23:26:17

If a building has no other planned use by the owner and is left unattended for years, then it makes sense to use it. I don't think it should be damaged though.

worraliberty Thu 21-Jul-11 23:27:22

Well I have to say it's not very often squatters will improve a place

On the contrary they normally leave it a shit tip and make their neighbour's lives a misery IME

dolldaggabuzzbuzz Thu 21-Jul-11 23:31:32

YANBU

floweryblue Thu 21-Jul-11 23:37:49

I think unoccupied buildings should be seized by the council and turned into occupiable (is that a word?) buildings.

LineRunner Thu 21-Jul-11 23:39:14

I would always try to find a proper toilet.

worraliberty Thu 21-Jul-11 23:39:19

Sadly a lot of them are owned by the council and some are the subject of long court battles..or the result of people not making wills.

marriedinwhite Thu 21-Jul-11 23:40:20

The unoccupied buildings are the property of somebody else. Because it is empty why does that give anyone else the right to illegally enter it and trespass and used it to live in on a rent free basis?

aeder Thu 21-Jul-11 23:40:43

YABU its not their building and squatters don't have the consent of the owners to live there

SpecialFriedRice Thu 21-Jul-11 23:43:04

If they are truly abandoned YANBU (although part of me thinks why they hell should they get something for free)

But I hate those stories about squatters moving into houses that are empty purely because they are someone elses second home, or they are about to start renovations, or someone has just gone on holiday etc.

The whole thing about squatters rights is insane.

AuntiePickleBottom Thu 21-Jul-11 23:43:35

yabu, i would imagine they don't pay council tax, so how are they paying for the bins to get emptied....also i would imagine that they don't pay water rate or any other kind of bill...which we all foot the bill for

worraliberty Thu 21-Jul-11 23:47:05

There was a program on the other night about this.

A young couple bought a house in London (swanky part) and it needed huge renovations to make it liveable.

They only took a few weeks to sort out builders etc, and in the mean time squatters moved in and it cost thousands of pounds and loads of stress to get them out.

You should have seen the state they left the place in too...shit everywhere sad

All the squatters (about 10 of them) looked like able bodied 20 somethings who did fuck all except a bit of busking/begging on the underground.

floweryblue Thu 21-Jul-11 23:53:17

worra, I know what you say is true but I still think that there should be some sort of 'compulsory purchase' type law.

In my area there is an old hotel, it is being left to fall down by its owners.

My understanding is that they don't want to spend the money on restoring it to a hotel (sensible business move, may not be able to make enough money) but they can't get a 'change of use' to turn it into flats and probably make lots of dosh.

So a beautiful old building is falling down and hideous housing developments are being built on the outskirts of town because we are 'short' of housing.

floweryblue Thu 21-Jul-11 23:54:56

oops, lots of post while I composed mine!

BertieBotts Thu 21-Jul-11 23:55:08

I think we have squatters next door. They are very quiet. Come and go. And they put bread on my roof confused

worraliberty Thu 21-Jul-11 23:57:33

I agree flowery but I think the law should in some way hurry up all the legal wrangles there can be over properties that can take years.

iceandsliceplease Fri 22-Jul-11 00:00:35

YABVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVU. My parents had squatters in their house when they were trying to sell it. They caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, cost my parents thousands in electricity, water, gas, cleaning & legal bills. It cost the squatters nothing, but cost my parents so much that they had to drop the price of the house to sell it quickly. The joke of it is that that team of squatters all had good jobs, money, cars and freely admitted to moving from one vacant property to another, having checked it out on rightmove first. To make it worse, the legal order that my parents got had to be against 'the unnamed', meaning that there was nothing to stop the squatters from being evicted, then moving straight back in again.
All of that's about money. The most horrible part was seeing my parents so upset (and I was furious too - this was the home I grew up in) and knowing that there was nothing we could do). It is horrible to feel that wrong has been done to you, that the people who have done the wrong are laughing about it, and that you are powerless.
Fucking bastard scumbag arsehole squatters.

floweryblue Fri 22-Jul-11 00:15:29

I have heard stories like your parents' experience ice, I am amazed that Squatters' Rights can apply in any way in this kind of situation. There is clearly a fault in the laws which can be applied.

I think that clearly unused and severely neglected buildings should be at risk of compulsory purchase by the government, in order that they can then provide social housing for those in need.

iceandsliceplease Fri 22-Jul-11 00:21:20

I agree floweryblue - buildings that are clearly neglected should be placed on some sort of register with the owner given notice that a compulsory purchase will take place if the owners don't disagree/take action. But as the law stands, any empty building is fair game, and it's not a priority for MPs. My dad had a meeting with our MP to discuss squatters rights. The MP agreed it was shocking, and needed looking at. This was around 10 years ago. Our MP was Home Secretary at the time. Nothing's changed.

marriedinwhite Fri 22-Jul-11 00:21:59

Floweryblue, I have a coat and a pair of boots that I haven't used for a couple of years - also some jewellery I don't wear either and it hasn't been cleaned for a few years. Are you saying that as I don't use it thieves should have the right to illegally enter my home and take it from me because that is what squatting is isn't it. Taking that which belongs to others without their permission and without insuring it, or properly maintaining it. In other words it is stealing.

Backinthebox Fri 22-Jul-11 00:28:43

Oh, yes! If someone wants to come and make a compulsory purchase of the empty property I own and cannot sell - show me the money! If someone wants to squat in it though, just because it is empty, they can fuck right off. I own it and pay for it. Not them.

Buying abandonned buildings - not unreasonable.
Condoning squatting - very VERY unreasonable lazy thieving bad illegal behaviour. In certain necks of the woods I know squatters would be evicted with considerable force, should they choose not to leave nicely.

Islandlady Fri 22-Jul-11 00:35:43

Flowery are you on the Isle of Wight?as you have just described a rather beautiful Art Deco Hotel in Ryde.

The new owners want it turned into flats but the council wont give planning permission, and the ladies on the bus sigh and remember it when it was a going concern with dances every friday night

Although I dont know anything about a hideous housing development in Ryde only the Pan Meadows in Newport so perhaps we just live in different area but with the same problems

dreamingbohemian Fri 22-Jul-11 02:25:59

The thing is, there are two kinds of squatters.

There is the kind ice described, who should burn in hell for the pain they cause people. I would never ever defend these people.

But, I have a few friends who do a kind of squatting that I think is somewhat reasonable. They only squat council-owned property, and only if it has been adandoned and left derelict for a long time (there is sadly loads of these in London). They completely accept that they will only be there temporarily and do move on if the council gets around to doing something with the property. But in the meantime they restore the building, making the street nicer, and also they sort of open the property to the neighbourhood, they hold free coffee meetups and yoga sessions, film nights, that kind of thing. They cook up loads of food and distribute it to homeless people and addicts in the neighbourhood.

I don't think that's so bad. It really kills me to see so much derelict council property around when there are so many people who need housing, at least this way there is some good coming out of it.

MrsVidic Fri 22-Jul-11 06:27:53

Can't stand squatters- know far too many people who have been hurt by them. IMHO They should have fuck all rights

Backinthebox Fri 22-Jul-11 09:09:45

Very virtuous, Dreamingbohemian. And just think how much more they would achieve if they they put their efforts into something lawful. You can run a soup kitchen for the homeless and watch films without having to comandeer someone else's property against their wishes to do it.

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