06 September 2011

Homeless People Ensure High Property Prices Campaign Dealt A Blow

The Telegraph newspaper reports that its campaign to maintain property prices at the expenses of homeless people has been dealt a blow. Under the headline, "Squatters could be good for us all, says judge in empty homes ruling" the newspaper explains,
"Squatters are not criminals and could be good for society, a judge has ruled in ordering a London council to make public a list of empty homes in its area."
The newspaper doesn't give us any of their analysis of Henderson J's words, instead, it goes on to report,
"With police backing, Camden Council argued that disclosing the list risked unleashing a wave of criminal damage, arson, drug-related crime and organised “stripping” of vacant properties.

But Judge Fiona Henderson emphasised that squatters were not law-breakers and said official concerns were outweighed by the “public interest in putting empty properties back into use”.

The tribunal ruling means Camden Council must now comply with a Freedom of Information Act request by Yiannis Voyias of the Advisory Service for Squatters for a list of empty council-managed and private homes in the borough."

One would hope that this ruling would go some way to stopping the Telegraphs campaign of trying to criminalize the homeless who seek the remedy of adverse possession.

Note, the newspaper article is about Voyias v IC & London Borough of Camden (Freedom of Information Act 2000) [2011] UKFTT EA_2011_0007 (GRC).

Update 27th September 2011

Another smack in the face for boy blunder Grant Shapps' campaign to ensure that homeless people remain homeless even though empty properties abound. This time the put down comes from 160 leading legal figures explains the Guardian under the title, "Squatting law is being misrepresented to aid ministers' reforms, claim lawyers".
"Solicitors, barristers and legal professors have accused the government of misrepresenting the law and misleading the public to push through reforms on squatting.

The 160 lawyers, who represent tenants and landlords across England and Wales, say the housing minister, Grant Shapps, and justice minster, Crispin Blunt, are "obscuring" the law and accuse them of "sensationalist misrepresentation" during recent debates on squatting legislation.

The letter, published in the Guardian, says that ministers' obfuscation and media misreporting have created "fear for homeowners, confusion for the police and ill-informed debate among both the public and politicians on reforming the law. [In] failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting"."

The article and the letter are worth reading in full. Put simply, you're being lied to. No one from government is correcting these lies.

By no one from government, that'd be Grant Shapps,

the man who has the look of someone who'd be willing to make people homeless just to maintain the excessive house prices for his constituents.

Quoting from the letter linked to above, we have
"By making misleading statements and failing to challenge inaccurate reporting, ministers have furthered the myths being peddled around squatting.
We want it to be clear that it is already a criminal offence for a squatter to occupy someone's home, or a home that a person intends to occupy, under the Criminal Law Act 1977. A homeowner will be a displaced residential occupier, or if they are intending to move into the property, a protected intended occupier. In either case, it is a criminal offence for a squatter to remain in the property as soon as they have been told of the displaced occupier or a protected occupier. The police can arrest any trespasser who does not leave. The displaced or protected occupier can use force to enter the property and reasonable force to remove the trespassers."
If Grant Shapps didn't know the above, he's not fit for purpose and should resign.
Update 5th October 2011. The truth doesn't seem to be setting me free, it's just bringing me despair and a feeling of imprisonment. Another squatting story has been written up, this time in the Independent (It isn't, Are You?), "Plea to ministers on squatting law". To be fair to Amy, our intrepid reporter, she does a reasonable job: it's just the commentators under the piece that are troubling. They keep peddling the lie that has been scotched by the letter in the Guardian which I reported above on the 27th September 2011 with regard to squatting family homes. It's despairing to think that people only get their news from one source, I just hope the contributors are shills.

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