27 February 2011

You Don't Know Squat About Squatting In England

There have been a couple of high profile squatting stories emanating from London which makes one wonder if the inmates are running the asylum in the UK and whether anarchistic multiculturalism is compatible with bourgeois free market systems.

Guy Ritchie, the English filmmaker and Madonna’s ex-husband, was conducting renovations on a £6 Million mansion in the central London Fitzrovia district.  Ritchie bought the former language school, which had been empty for three years, last May and was in the process of having the five-story building converted into two homes.

But as the Richie edifice was being renovated, a dozen squatters managed to occupy the estate with the intent of opening the Really Free School.  The freeloaders prior squat in Bloomsbury offered lessons in anarchy, tarot-reading and social media.  Who’s “Talking’ ‘bout My Generation”?    At the “formerly” Richie flat, occupier advertised online ‘We need occupiers for tonight! Will be film showings in the new cinema. Come sleepover in the most rah property in London”.  Quite.

Richie’s building contractors contend that they were working on the place and that the erected scaffolding makes it unsafe for the squatters. Outside observers might think that the kids are alright unless someone gets hurt, such as the rightful property owner.

The Daily Mail of London showed a property owner begging the squatters of his £1 Million home in the Archway section of North London. While John Henry Brown was not as famous as Guy Richie, his story is similar.  Brown had saved up for 10 years to purchase his rowhouse and was in the process of having it renovated for his wife and two children, but a band of twelve squatters from France, Spain and Poland took possession of the property.

Neighbours have told the homeowner that squatters forced a window open to Hamilton-Brown’s property just after the sale of the house, but that forced entry is almost impossible for the owner to prove in court. Hamilton-Brown has been to court five times since his property was absconded on January 21st to obtain a possession order, but he will have to wait for six weeks to get a warrant for bailiffs to remove the squatters. During the meanwhile, Hamiliton-Brown has been forced to rent a small flat for his family until this legal matter is resolved. It is probably little solace to Mr. Brown but one of the squatters is a dead ringer for Spike, Hugh Grant's silly berk flatmate in Notting Hill.

English law treats squatting as a civil matter unless there is evidence of forced entry, which permits the police to forcibly evict the freeloaders.  Otherwise, the owner must prove in court that he has a legal right to live there (and the squatters do not). A squatter can try to justify his occupation by showing that he has exclusive access to the property and can secure the abode with no broken locks or windows. But do not try this defense in thrifty Scotland, as squatting is treated as a criminal offense.

Twenty five years ago, the London School of Economics housing assistance offered squatting as an unsavory option for the poor student, but they recommended dicey hovels South of the Thames.  Now, the internet has well developed Squatters Networks. It seems that the squatters are organized to move like locusts from one pie-de-terre to the next after eviction. The economic downturn leaves lots of seemingly vacant properties and there are no criminal consequences to squatting in London-town.

Several factors attached to the Hamilton-Brown homestead highjacking stick in the craw of the great silent majority. Many of these squatters were not British but took advantage of England’s soft squatting laws.   In fact, a Frenchman calling himself Jean-Claude boasted that: "I came to England because this is where the love is. We will speak to other people from all over the world to come here and live because it is so easy. Why can't we live where we want?".  To add fuel to the fire, these foreign freeloaders were given legal aid for their squatting by the local authorities as they are applicants European Union citizens who are unemployed.

The truly galling thing is that these cheeky prats had the audacity to post a legal notice on the abode warning against trespassing threatening a £5,000 fine and six months imprisonment.  In the meantime, police are often called to the address over the loud parties and it is said that there has been significant damage to the interior of the abode.

It used to be assumed that a man’s home is his castle.  Accordingly, the squatting laws favor property owners who protect their domiciles.  Recently, residents in villages in Surrey and Kent were ordered by police to remove the mesh wire from around their windows.  The homeowners were trying to thwart a string of burglaries, but community police officers were warned that the wire was dangerous and they it could lead to compensation in case the criminals (breaking in) hurt themselves.

I am reminded of the lyrics on an album titled “Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols

I am the anti-Christ I am Anarchy. Don’t know what I want But I know how to get it.  I wanna destroy the passer-by ‘Cos I wanna be anarchy... How many times do you get what you want? I used the best I use the rest. I use the NME. I use anarchy. ‘Cos I wanna be anarchy. It’s the only way to be.
        “Anarchy in the UK” Sex Pistols (1975)

Those cacophonic lyrics epitomizes the philosophy that such narcissistic, nihilistic notions that these anarchistic vagabonds  assume.  This libertines may enjoy causing the common law system to collapse, but the hoi polloi in a civilized society will not countenance such capricious lawlessness for long. I doubt that they will enjoy sharia law that is gaining acceptance in Britain as theft receives some harsh justice under the tenants of “The Religion of Peace”.

In Oliver Twist, a nineteenth century novel the sordid lives of criminals in London, Charles Dickens wrote: “the law is a ass—a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience.”  At the time, Dickens was satirizing how the underclass was mistreated by society.  It seems now that the bourgeois are now the underdogs who pay for the wanton ways of anarchistic internationalist socialists.  If this skewed social justice myopia is not corrected by clear eyed experience, taxpayers and the pillars of society will wonder “Who’s Next?”

H/T  Daily Mail
H/T Evening Star

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