Over the last 18 months, Landlord Action, leaders in helping landlords with problem tenants, has been instructed on a growing number of squatting cases fuelled by the huge proportion of properties sitting empty across the UK. After the broadcast of Channel 4’s ‘The Great British Property Scandal” highlighting the gravity of this problem, Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action, supports the challenge to get more empty properties back into use as he believes this will reduce the number of squatters taking up residence in private properties, which has a detrimental effect on homeowners and landlords.
Paul comments “We have been instructed on a growing number of squatting cases by property owners, owner occupiers or professional landlords wanting us to deal with squatters that have broken into their property. These have been predominantly across London where there are a reported 70,000* empty properties, but we have seen cases across all major cities. I am staggered that there are so many empty properties in the UK with over 350,000* of these being empty for more than six months, and yet council waiting lists are so long and homelessness is up 17% this year.”
According to Channel 4, statistically 88%* of these empty properties are privately owned. Paul adds “Many people don’t have the funds to bring these properties back into use and it can cause huge aggravation, expense and stress for owners if squatters take up residence. In order to reduce this, councils need to do more by forming stronger links, in regards to this new campaign, with private landlords in order to tackle the empty homes crisis by creating viable alternatives so that fewer people need to squat.”
Aside from a few organised gangs who target properties to squat in, the main reason that properties are squatted is because the majority cannot afford rent. Paul adds “The idea of a campaign, such as this by Channel 4, to get empty homes back into use is a very good one and with the right Government backing and some long term funding put in place to assist the initial renovation costs which will be paid back through rents received by landlords, this has the potential to provide a great solution and bring council waiting lists down.”
Mr Shamplina also believes that if this new scheme were to be put in place, councils could call on enforcement officers to push harder and enter into dialogue with landlords by way of compulsory purchase orders to start getting empty properties put back into use.
Paul concludes “We whole heartedly support this campaign and would encourage others to do the same.”