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Contrary to popular belief, squatting in commercial properties is not a crime. If you have a vacant commercial property, squatters are perfectly within their rights to start living in it. Of course, there are numerous crimes commonly associated with squatting, so it’s only right that you’re concerned about your business being targeted by squatters. Acclaimed Security is a Leeds-based security company that has been operating in the industry for over a decade. Our security solutions are normally put in place to safeguard your premises from vandals and thieves, but they’re also useful for keeping out squatters. We take a look at the risks of leaving your vacant business premises available for squatters to use, and how you can prevent your business from being occupied.


The increasing risk

Squatting in residential property has recently been made illegal, but the law has not been extended to cover commercial premises. That means that squatters can occupy your vacant premises at any time, without your permission. Given the nature of the law, squatters are increasingly targeting commercial premises. Although some squatters may not devalue or damage your property, it’s fair to say that many will.


The crimes

Squatting itself is not a crime in commercial properties, but many other crimes are associated with squatting. Vandalism and theft are perhaps the two most common crimes we expect squatters to commit, but they might also make use of electricity, gas and water – with you footing the bill.  Clearly, all of these crimes will cost your business, and particularly if you’re trying to sell the property or plan to occupy it again in the near future. Court cases can become expensive, and may last for weeks. You may have to delay plans to make use of the building, potentially scuppering your long-term business plans and damaging your businesses’ prospects.


What to do if your premises are occupied

If you want to regain your property, you can use an interim possession order (IPO) to have it back within a matter of days. However, if the squatters have damaged the property and you want to make a claim against them, you should make an ordinary claim for possession. Once an IPO is issued, squatters must leave within 24 hours or face a jail sentence, and must not return to the building in the next 12 months.


Preventing squatting

If you have left your offices, warehouse or other commercial premises vacant, you can make use of a number of security solutions to protect them from squatters. You may not need to implement as thorough security solutions as you would for an occupied commercial building – deterrence measures may be enough. Leaving lights on may imply there’s activity in the building, but criminals and squatters have grown wise to this tactic. Manned guarding is by far the most effective way of deterring squatters. The presence of a guard will completely eliminate the chance of your vacant premises becoming occupied by squatters. If you’re based in Leeds or West Yorkshire, Acclaimed Security can advise you on a cost-effective manned guarding solution for your vacant business. Speak to a member of our team today to keep your premises free from unwelcome guests.


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