On 1 May 2012, Royal Assent was given to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.  For the first time it will be a criminal offence to squat in a residential property.

The date the offence will come into force is currently awaited.

The new law comes following the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on options for dealing with squatting last year.

It is important to note that the new criminal offence will only apply to residential buildings.  Squatting in commercial buildings will not be criminalised, leaving owners of commercial properties to rely on the civil remedies currently available.