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Squatters online guide: Your views

Terraced house
Image caption The new advice highlights that people can apply for an order requiring squatters to leave within 24 hours

A guide for homeowners, aimed at stopping squatters "invading" their property, has been published online.

The guide outlining people's rights is a response to websites set up to help squatters get round the law.

BBC News website readers who have been affected by squatting or have have been squatters discuss their experiences:

PEOPLE WHOSE HOUSE HAS BEEN SQUATTED:

Simon Gould, Brighton: "Having had a buy-to-let property squatted while empty for one week between tenancies I feel very strongly that squatting should be criminalised.

I had the expense of losing rent, paying for alternative accommodation for the rightful tenants, replacing beds, carpets and redecorating.

To cap it all I had to pay for the gas and electricity used by the squatters as well as the council tax while the place was "empty".

After then paying £3,000 to get them out via the courts, they wandered across the street and broke in to another house.

They were seen doing this and the police were called, but they just said that the door had been left open and the police left them to it.

It's beyond belief that this has been allowed to continue so long and high time it was stopped."

Linda Melbourne, Harberton, Devon: "My mother in law is 89 and has just found out that her cottage in Harberton village has a squatter - she lives in London.

She is in very bad health and it does not take much to upset her now.

The local police officer found out that a squatter was indeed living there, but only after she received a final bill from the water provider.

It turns out he has put all the utility bills in his name.

We do not have a clue how to deal with this situation and, as the cottage is hers, it is very hard for her to do much.

Why do the scroungers and do-nothings in the country get all the rights and the people that have worked all their life get nothing?

Her husband was in Auschwitz for five years in concentration camp. He recently died so she is very upset."

SQUATTERS

Owen Llewellyn, London: "I squatted for 13 years and still have several friends who are currently squatting.

Let me reassure homeowners that we never want to squat someone's home. We look out for abandoned properties that are definitely not other people's dwelling places.

The government should spend its money on renovating abandoned properties to provide desperately needed housing rather than publishing childish scare-mongering documents.

There are several very effective laws that can be used to evict people in cases of 'home invasion' situations. Most were introduced by the Tories in the 80s.

I have never come across any of these laws being used in practice because 'home invasion' is extremely rare.

The real crime here is the juxtaposition of homelessness and empty houses. If we waited for the state to sort it out we'd be waiting forever.

Squatting is not a crime."

Graham Barbour, Oldham: "Despite having just finished producing a film on housing conditions in Scotland - I found myself homeless in London in the 80s.

Some other squatters showed me how to find squats, and I was able to live and work in London for several years.

It is quite easy to evict squatters these days as a 24-hour notice can be obtained and served by a bailiff.

I would also point out that I was able to give housing to several other homeless people during that period.

Also, most of the YBAs (Young British Artists) of that period (late 80s-90s) were active squatters. Their art is now worth considerably more than some houses."

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