Justice chief could widen anti-squatting laws to business premises

Justice secretary Chris Grayling is considering extending anti-squatting laws

Justice secretary Chris Grayling is considering extending anti-squatting laws - Credit: Archant

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has said he is prepared to extend laws which criminalise squatting to commercial properties.

Speaking to the Ham&High, the minister said he is currently consulting with MPs to gauge the scale of the problem before deciding whether to introduce new legislation. Currently, anti-squatting laws only apply to residential buildings.

In May, around 100 squatters were reported to have invaded a former office block in Maygrove Road, West Hampstead, disturbing neighbours who said they were intimidated and kept awake by late-night parties.

Mr Grayling said: “I am perfectly happy to legislate something that is a problem.

“We’re asking MPs from all parties to come forward with examples within their constituencies of squatting in commercial premises. We’ve dealt with the issue of squatting in residential premises and that’s right and proper. People have said to us the focus has moved to commercial premises. If you own a shop which is empty and you’re trying to let it out to a new tenant and a squatters move in it’s very bad news for you financially.

“MPs in their surgeries are people who get this kind of thing coming forward more than anyone else so we’re saying to what degree is there a problem, do we need to address this. I’m very open to addressing it.”