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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Squatters given access to list of empty houses

February 03 2010
Organised squatters can get a list of empty properties if they ask their council The location of more than 800 vacant houses in the London Borough of Lambeth was published last year following a Freedom of Information Act request, which has put pressure on local authorities to tackle the twin problem of homelessness and empty properties.

The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) would advise people to take this route, though it can be a lengthy process. An ASS legal adviser said: "We have seen an increase in calls from people asking if they can squat their own homes as the bank has taken them, but we don't advise this. It is far easier to squat someone else's property."

The number of squatted properties has increased since the recession hit and caused repossessions across the country. Sixty-nine residences are now being squatted in Lambeth, compared with 43 last year.

But the local authority take a zero-tolerance stance against squatters. A spokesperson said: "There is a nationwide shortage of social housing, and people who illegally occupy properties are depriving families - in genuine need and on the housing waiting list - of a permanent home."

The borough has 865 empty properties. Many remain empty for months after tenants are kicked out, which can lead to property damage, but the Council's approach towards so called ‘fluffy' squatters, who often do repairs and create a pleasant living environment, remains firm. ASS pointed out that squatting was still legal. The latest edition of the Squatters Handbook was published last year.

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