Squatters pop up unexpectedly at locations across the capital and the latest site was an empty supermarket in Hounslow .
Riot police removed more than 1,500 young people from the location.
There were A4 sheets on all the doors around the building claiming the people in the former supermarket had squatters' rights to live there
But exactly what are the rights of squatters.
What is squatting?
When a person enters an empty building or land without permission and with the intention of living there.
You may be classed as homeless if you are squatting.
Squatting and the law
Squatting in residential properties such as a house or flat is against the law.
It is a criminal offence which carries a six month prison sentence, a £5,000 fine, or both.
The following are circumstances in which you cannot be convicted for squatting:
- Squatting in a commercial premises.
- Are a tenant in a property where the tenancy has expired - this is known as trespassing.
- Are a gypsy or traveller living on an unauthorised site.
While squatting in a non-residential property or land without permission is not a crime, it is a illegal if the property is damaged for example to gain access or if something is stolen from the property.
A person must leave the land or property if told to by the owner, police, council or the court.
Failure to do so would mean a crime has been committed.
Other situations which may arise in a crime include using gas and electricity without permission, flytipping and disobeying a noise abatement notice.
There are circumstances in which a long-term squatter can become a registered owner of property or land.
However the squatter must be able to prove:
- The property has been occupied by the squatter for 10 years, continuously.
- The squatters acted as owners of the property for that period of time.
- There was no permission from the owner to occupy the site.
Squatters can be served with an interim possession order (IPO) from the court.
If squatters refuse to leave the property within 24 hours or do not stay away from the property for 12 months they can be sent to prison.
A claim for possession must then be made to get possession of the property.
An IPO cannot be made if there is a claim for damages caused by squatters or if former tenants are being evicted.
If you are squatting and have been asked to leave but refuse to do so, you can be arrested.
The police can be contacted if squatters have taken over a residential property, are seen breaking into a property, or if a member of the public believes someone is squatting.
Squatters are classed as homeless and there is help available.
People are advised to the local authority for help as a homeless person in order to find suitable accommodation.
There are also charities which will help, such as Shelter , which is a housing and homeless charity.
Keep up to date with the latest news in west London via the free getwestlondon app.
You can even set it to receive push notifications for all the breaking news in your area.