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Squatters in London
Topic Started: Oct 1 2011, 03:08 AM (673 Views)
Javen
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2035699/Squatters-shot-wife-comes-Doctor-1m-home-taken-spongers-hits-law.html


As more families fall victim to organised gangs of squatters, a blood-boiling interview with the couple forced out of their £1m home who are leading the fightback...
Dr Oliver Cockerell is, by his own admission, an unlikely champion for a popular cause.

But for nearly two weeks, the Harley Street doctor has fought a very public battle to evict 14 squatters who broke into, and took occupation of, his £1million dream home.

It has been a struggle that has put him on a collision course with the Government, as the 49‑year-old neurologist argued for a ‘common-sense’ change to the law which governs squatting.

Above all, he believes the gangs of anarchists and Eastern Europeans who are increasingly taking over people’s homes so shamelessly must be treated as criminals, rather than dealt with in civil courts.

Although he has taken the crusade on reluctantly, he is well aware that his case will inspire other victims to fight back

His story started when squatters took over the five-bedroom Edwardian home he and his heavily pregnant wife planned to move into in time for the birth of their first child.

The raggle-taggle group of foreigners and drop-outs ignored his repeated pleas to leave the West London property despite telling them that his 35-year-old wife Kaltun was being put under emotional strain and the ordeal was placing their unborn baby at risk


He said: ‘These people think that because I’m a Harley Street doctor I’ve got lots of money, and so this doesn’t matter.

'But I’m not very rich. Like so many people, I have a 90 per cent mortgage and I have to work more than 60 hours a week to pay that off.’

His anger is, in part, borne out of his own struggles to succeed.

The son of a Hammersmith businessman, he was sent to private school courtesy of a bursary for gifted children.

Next, he funded his studies at King’s College Medical School in Camberwell by taking two jobs — one as a security guard and another at McDonald’s — while living in a council flat.

Speaking at his desk at The London Clinic, he asks: ‘Do these squatters’ families know what they are doing and the effect they are having on people?’

Across London and other cities around the country, gangs of squatters have been occupying people’s homes, sometimes forcing their way in after the owner has gone out for only a few hours.

Quickly, the squatters barricade themselves in by changing the locks, nailing windows shut and then putting up posters which state that the property is ‘vacant’ and is being squatted in.
Alternatively, they create bogus tenancy agreements which they give to police when questioned in order to try to prove they are legally renting the place.

On the move: One of the squatters, covering his face in an attempt to hide his identity, is evicted after apologising to the Cockerells
An estimated 20,000 squatters in the UK are exploiting lax laws.

Although it is illegal for squatters to stay if the property owner demands they leave, police will usually intervene only after the despairing householder has spent thousands of pounds obtaining a court eviction order.

The squatters’ ultimate goal — which, thankfully, is rarely realised — is to squat in a property for ten years, at which point they become the new legal owner.

In one area of East London, squatting is so rife that residents have set up a local ‘home guard’ to monitor the activities of gangs of Eastern Europeans who have seized — and gone on to ransack — a number of homes in the area.

The problem was highlighted last month when Julia High, a 55-year-old immigration officer, returned from a concert at The Proms to discover that a group of Romanian gipsies had broken into her home in Leytonstone, east London, and barricaded themselves inside.
To add insult to injury, the Romanian women put on Miss High’s clothes.

When challenged by neighbours, they said she was dead, before uncorking some of her wine.

Miss High spent two weeks cleaning up the mess after finally managing to get them evicted.

Similarly, this week, sisters Amelita and Lilia Olasa (both retired nurses) fell victim to another family of Romanian squatters.

Do these squatters’ families know what they are doing and the effect they are having on people?

They wept as they surveyed the damage done to the £500,000 North London home where they have lived for 27 years.
Furniture, kitchen appliances and personal possessions were taken, and makeshift ashtrays overflowing with cigarette butts were littered throughout the three-bedroom house.

The gang had struck when the sisters went away on holiday. After breaking in, the squatters produced a bogus six-month ‘contract’ claiming they were paying a ‘landlord’ £1,200 rent.

Wiping tears from her eyes, Lilia asked: ‘How are people allowed to do this?’

It is that very same question to which Dr Cockerell and the ever-increasing number of other victims of squatting are determined to get an answer.
He says: ‘These are organised groups who use the internet for a support network. It is remarkable.’

He went on to criticise judge Fiona Henderson, who this week caused outrage when she said that ‘squatting is not a crime’.

Incredibly, this is the truth — squatting is merely a civil offence.
Judge Henderson also went on to order that a list of empty homes in north London should be made public to the Advisory Service for Squatters, an east London-based organisation known as the ‘estate agency for squatters’.


While Judge Henderson acknowledged that publication of the list could have ‘a negative impact’ on crime prevention and might be of use to organised criminals looking to burgle and gut empty homes, she insisted: ‘The tribunal does not consider that any perceived social disadvantage of living next door to squatters, or the costs of eviction of squatters, are matters that the tribunal is entitled to take into consideration since squatting is not illegal.’

There is a whole industry which supports the activities of squatters.

An 83-page Squatters Handbook (now in its 13 edition since its initial publication in 1976) lists the tricks that home-wreckers can use.

The Advisory Service will even post information abroad to help anyone thinking of coming to England to become squatters and exploit the fact that they are not criminals and are dealt with only in the civil courts.

‘Politicians have got to change these laws,’ Dr Cockerell argues. ‘It’s simply wrong that stealing a car is a criminal offence but moving into someone else’s home falls under civil law.’

His wife, a NatWest financial adviser, who fled Somalia 20 years ago when civil war broke out, is astonished that British law is so feeble.

It’s simply wrong that stealing a car is a criminal offence but moving into someone else’s home falls under civil law

She says that property-ownership is sacrosanct in her home country and that ‘if someone takes it over, you shoot them’.

She is furious that English law allows feckless people to use others’ electricity, gas and water without paying for it.

Her husband says he was so upset that he considered exacting a more immediate revenge on the squatters: ‘I was angry at the injustice of it all. If I was not a consultant, I could well have lashed out — got ten heavy friends together and done what most people would do in such circumstances.’

Of course, such action would have risked him getting a criminal record which would bar him from practising medicine. So, instead, he hired a barrister and began the legal eviction process.

The procedure took nearly two weeks and was almost derailed due to a ‘technicality’. For the squatters — who included an American, Australians and Italians — set up a ‘textbook’ squat.

While the advice manual warns squatters not to commit ‘criminal damage’, it tacitly encourages such action by saying that police can prosecute only ‘if there were witnesses’.

Not surprisingly, no neighbours witnessed them break into Dr Cockerell’s home.

The manual also advises squatters to ‘control entry’ by changing locks (three new ones were fitted at Dr Cockerell’s place).

If, and when, the police arrive, it suggests a ‘polite but firm’ manner when insisting that no law has been broken. To make sure there is proof that the squatters live there legally, it even suggests posting a letter to members of the squat!

Dr Cockerell recalls standing on his doorstep, pleading with them to leave.

When he failed, he hoped hard cash would succeed and offered them £500 to leave. But this was rejected as ‘paltry’.

‘It was blatant extortion,’ he says.

Meanwhile, after the case hit the headlines and reporters visited the address, they were met with a barrage of abuse from the squatters, as well as complaints that an impromptu band practice in one room was being interrupted.

One complained that the ‘peace and quiet’ was being shattered and a meditation session in another of the three reception rooms would have to be postponed.

On Wednesday, nearly two weeks after they arrived, the eviction order was finally executed and the gang made a hasty retreat, with a few glib apologies to Mrs Cockerell.

But, like so many other squatters, they simply moved on to another empty address in the area which they had scouted out.

One squatter explained his actions, saying that as a struggling musician, he needs the solitary lifestyle of squatting as it lets his creative juices flow.

There’s little sympathy from victims like Dr Cockerell.

Describing his two-week ordeal as ‘a nightmare’, he said he remained philosophical because his work has given him perspective on the situation:

‘I have just come from the intensive care unit where I saw a young man who has had a life-threatening stroke. My problems are nothing in comparison to his.’

Nevertheless, Dr Cockerell is keen to continue his campaign against squatters, explaining that his own experience has made him realise the huge emotional importance of our homes.

‘A home is more than merely a possession. It’s something we hold very dear,’ he says. ‘When burgled, people feel it’s the invasion and violation of their home that upsets them far more than the loss of items stolen.’

Tragically, he and his wife no longer see their new house as a dream home.

‘The trouble is that we’ve come to loathe the house now. This cannot be allowed to happen to other people.’


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faintsmile1992
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This kind of thing is obviously bad, but between those supplying cheap and nasty accommodation to immigrants and those people buying 'properties' (notice not 'homes') for sale to the wealthy, many people particularly in the rural areas cant find housing especially not in their own communities. in turn this has to dissuade people from starting families, if they can't have a family home. Such second homes and immigrant squats should be taken over by the English people who really need them IMO.

And if someone finds a genuinely deserted farmhouse or something, why shouldn't there be squatters rights in those genuine cases? Finders keepers...
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snail
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A good friend of mine used to squat and through her I met a few people who lived like this. She was white, from a good family, had money ect.- she just decided to be homeless and travel. It's not just immigrants and poor people, there are a lot of rich kids who decide to live off the grid and do stuff like this.

One guy was a homeless heroin addict that traveled from town to town squatting in different cities. He was originally from somewhere a few hundred miles away. Some didn't do drugs and simply disliked modern life. They all seemed to be from different parts of the US. Part of the culture seems to be hopping trains, hitchhiking, going to punk shows, begging for change.
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Javen
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faintsmile1992
Oct 1 2011, 03:18 AM
This kind of thing is obviously bad, but between those supplying cheap and nasty accommodation to immigrants and those people buying 'properties' (notice not 'homes') for sale to the wealthy, many people particularly in the rural areas cant find housing especially not in their own communities. in turn this has to dissuade people from starting families, if they can't have a family home. Such second homes and immigrant squats should be taken over by the English people who really need them IMO.

And if someone finds a genuinely deserted farmhouse or something, why shouldn't there be squatters rights in those genuine cases? Finders keepers...
empty property aren't the ones being talked about...these are peoples homes...you think its right to squat the house of someone who went out on a weekedn drive?? don't people have the right not to fear for their homes to be overtaken and their property stolen??
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GenoMann
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faintsmile1992
Oct 1 2011, 03:18 AM
This kind of thing is obviously bad, but between those supplying cheap and nasty accommodation to immigrants and those people buying 'properties' (notice not 'homes') for sale to the wealthy, many people particularly in the rural areas cant find housing especially not in their own communities. in turn this has to dissuade people from starting families, if they can't have a family home. Such second homes and immigrant squats should be taken over by the English people who really need them IMO.

And if someone finds a genuinely deserted farmhouse or something, why shouldn't there be squatters rights in those genuine cases? Finders keepers...
What about the concept of private property? What a fascist idea! "Finders keepers" is a saying worthy of theives.

Property that is abandoned could be sold by the local authority, who presumably would like property tax payers to own it.

The squat-for-ten-years-and-it-yours law should be struck or the squaters should be forced to pay the property taxes of those ten years in order to receive the property.

There is no free lunch and there should not be free housing. Someone with free housing is simply supported by all who pay taxes.
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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faintsmile1992
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Javen
Oct 1 2011, 03:35 AM
empty property aren't the ones being talked about...these are peoples homes...you think its right to squat the house of someone who went out on a weekedn drive?? don't people have the right not to fear for their homes to be overtaken and their property stolen??


If you read what I wrote, then I began with "this kind of thing is obviously bad" lol. No I dont think its alright to squat in just any building but in some circumstances squatting makes more sense.

GenoMann
Oct 1 2011, 03:49 AM
What about the concept of private property? What a fascist idea! "Finders keepers" is a saying worthy of theives.


The concept of 'private property' changes over time, and applying 'finders keepers' to a deserted property is not a threat to the general concept but instead turns a building that was being wasted into a private property.
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topos
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@GenoMann.

Care to explain why somebody, who has bought a property, should pay taxes for its possession so as not to live of society?

I mean, there is of course the issue of keeping public records and paying the police to protect the property.

But if that is the philosophy, then there is little reason to tax income. Either or, I'd say.
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GenoMann
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faintsmile1992
Oct 1 2011, 07:10 AM
Javen
Oct 1 2011, 03:35 AM
empty property aren't the ones being talked about...these are peoples homes...you think its right to squat the house of someone who went out on a weekedn drive?? don't people have the right not to fear for their homes to be overtaken and their property stolen??


If you read what I wrote, then I began with "this kind of thing is obviously bad" lol. No I dont think its alright to squat in just any building but in some circumstances squatting makes more sense.

GenoMann
Oct 1 2011, 03:49 AM
What about the concept of private property? What a fascist idea! "Finders keepers" is a saying worthy of theives.


The concept of 'private property' changes over time, and applying 'finders keepers' to a deserted property is not a threat to the general concept but instead turns a building that was being wasted into a private property.
By saying that a building was wasted by being vacant, how are you different from Jean Jacques Rousseau and his general will?

I could see an extra property tax for vacant buildings being imposed. You would have to balance that against the possibility that the owner might keep a historically important building in that state, being liable in law for more direct attemps to destroy it. The case to reduce the waste of useful buildings in the UK is powered by a strong need - there is no question about that.
topos
Oct 1 2011, 07:47 AM
@GenoMann.

Care to explain why somebody, who has bought a property, should pay taxes for its possession so as not to live of society?

I mean, there is of course the issue of keeping public records and paying the police to protect the property.

But if that is the philosophy, then there is little reason to tax income. Either or, I'd say.
Topos we are talking about squatters, who have not puchased a building - unless you take break-in and possession to be a kind of possession. The legal precedence is old and hearkens back to the practices of taking the property of those who died with no inheritors in the plague - just by walking in and establishing residence you could lay a claim to the property.

The law could be pinned to the original conditions that impelled the practice; namely you can't squat unless there is no evidence of recent residence that is likely to continue. We are almost taking about a situation like 28 Days.

The development of income tax was initially an effort to pay for the war the country was waging at that time and meant (in theory) to be temporary. The Russian proverb sums it up; "There is nothing so permament as a temporary thing."

Income tax is currently used by socialists to re-distritube wealth.
Edited by GenoMann, Oct 1 2011, 01:53 PM.
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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topos
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Thanks for the interesting reply.

I don't know... looking at the most recent temporary solutions I don't really believe that they will be permanent. I mean, if you look at the ever increasing debt... fine, the debtees simply print money and don't necessarily need to get anything "back", but interest payments alone become difficult to manage. Something will give and logically it can only be something, which does not contribute to the real economy.
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GenoMann
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Printing excess money is called monetarizing you debt; running your currency into the ground so that you pay foreigners less back than they would otherwise expect. It is the planned policy of the Democratic Party in the United States. By stealing the value of the money, you steal a little of every savings account that is returned in the same currency. Gold accounts are really popular in the US right now. Interesting thing is that the US currency is just a convention; there is no legal need for US residents to use the greenback for the payment of debts.
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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topos
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It's the only legal tender.

And that thing with letting the debt disappear with inflation is just a myth. That doesn't work, because inflation comes with more dollars and every extra dollar comes with extra debt. If inflation (as defined by the rate things get more expensive) goes up, interest on dollars goes also up, on a madly overblown volume of dollars.

There is no way out of this other than bankruptcy. Quite possibly leading to wars.
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GenoMann
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True, Topos.

When the debt is held in a different country the interest on the local currency may stay the same, while the indebted currency is inflating. International economics brings different contexts into play.
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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topos
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@GM. Only if there are other currencies. The IMF demands in order for you to join it to back your currency with Dollars.
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GenoMann
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The IMF is not a fiscal doctor - rather a fiscal undertaker. Look at Korea.
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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topos
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I'm aware of that, more or less what I just said as well.
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PortuguesePoster
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Most of these so-called "squatters" are spoiled rich kids who think they are being rebellious or something and have no respect for other people´s property.
"Meds aren't really dusky wogs, they're just whites with more sunshine in 'em! :P "
faintsmile1992

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GenoMann
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The idea of becoming the owner of a place by occupation is not that far from getting the place by inheritance. Why should the successful squatters not have to pay inheritance taxes, just like an heir?
“The man of the true religious tradition understands two things: liberty and obedience. The first means knowing what you really want. The second means knowing what you really trust.” - G.K.’s Weekly, August 18, 1928
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