Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

Councils To Publish Squat Lists Shock

Jim Paton on the blessings to be woven from the CJA curse.

Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 81.

It looks like councils and housing associations might not be too keen on using the new Interim Possession Order (IPO) procedure for evicting squatters, brought in recently under the Criminal Justice Act.

There are several reasons for this, but amongst the most intriguing is that if they want to evict, using an IPO, from a block of flats, they may have to give you a handy list of nice safe squats for your next home first.

This isn’t a humanitarian concession and not at all what Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the Lord Chancellor, intended when he approved of the new rules. Here’s how it works:

Say, like most squatters, you are squatting a flat on a council or housing association estate. The landlords get an IPO against you. Maybe you couldn’t find a defence, maybe you didn’t get it together in what could be as little as 48 hours, maybe you decided to use the time to sort your next place out instead.

To get any type of possession order - but especially an IPO - the landlords will have had to prove that they have an immediate right to possession. That means the tenancy of the last tenant must have been officially ended. A tenancy can only be ended by some definite legal act done by the tenant, the landlord or a court. It can’t simply lapse, even if the tenant has died or moved away. The landlords have to prove either that they rehoused the tenant, or the tenant was evicted by a court, or handed in the keys, or they served a Notice the Quit on the tenant. What’s more, the landlords must have this immediate right to possession before you moved in. It will be too late for them to start serving a Notice to Quit on the tenant after they know you are in the flat.

When they serve the actual IPO on you (that’s what gives you 24 hours to leave or you could be nicked) it must be accompanied by a copy of the landlord’s affidavit. If the affidavit isn’t there, the IPO hasn’t been properly served and you can’t be convicted for failing to leave - ’though you might get charged. This will be the first chance you’ve had to see the affidavit. Grab it. It’s potential gold dust! If you have already left, go back and collect it before the 24 hour notice is up. If the information in it isn’t useful to you, it might be to others.

Look at paragraph 7 of the affidavit. There, the landlords have to give a list of the names and addresses of all the other tenants in the same building. It could be over 100 in a big block. These will be the tenants shown in their records.

In real life you’ll often find quite a few flats listed as having tenants that are actually empty. The grottier the estate, the more likely this is. THEY ARE THE FLATS FOR YOUR HANDY HIT LIST! You know for sure the landlords haven’t got an immediate right to possession because they say so themselves. You will be able to see off any attempted IPO and the landlords can’t even use the old anti-squatting procedure without ending the tenancy first, which they usually forget to do and waste months getting it right.

Don’t be put off if the flats listed as having tenants have also been caged up by the very same landlords. It just means the left hand of the bureaucracy doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Anyway, it’s paper that counts in these games, not real life. The steel door might get sort of lost, but let’s make sure the paper doesn’t!