2 SEPTEMBER 1972, Page 30


Squatters' rights custos

Rights are breaking out all over, or so it is beginning to seem as far as squatters are concerned. Under the revised rules of both the High Court and the County Court, issued in 1970, landlords found it much easier to get squatters out of their property, even if they had no intention of putting the place to better use. The rules allow the owner to summons the squatters to appear. This is followed by a court hearing at which an order for possession is granted. But under the new rules there is some doubt as to whether the judge must grant immediate possession.

This point was put to the test earlier this year by squatters in a Department of the Environment building outside Harlow. The judge, •instead of granting immediate possession, gave the squatters seven days in which to appeal. An appeal was lodged, and the DOE, who did not want the building flattened for roadworking purposes for at least another year, requested the Court of Appeal for a quick hearing. This was rejected and it therefore appeared that the squatters were safe until the hearing 10 the Autumn. But twenty-eight days after the first hearing, the DOE went in with bailiffs and smashed the place to pieces.