London

Squatting in 10-bed Highgate home was 'easy': squatter

  • 7 January 2011
  • From the section London

A man who along with 29 people has been occupying a 10-bedroom mansion in north London has said he would have been arrested in his native Latvia.

Jason Ruddick, 21, said he entered the Victorian home in Highgate through a broken bathroom window on Boxing Day.

He said squatters rights in England means "this is one of the few countries (where) it is so easy to do it".

"I would probably get arrested (in Latvia), that would be the end of it", Mr Ruddick added.

Occupation of empty properties is a civil, not a criminal, matter in England and Wales, unless entry is forced. Police can act only if the squatters commit offences such as theft or criminal damage.

'Very nice' area

The 30 people living in the property - which has four bathrooms, a kitchen with a stove and running water, heating and electricity - come from all over the world, including from the UK.

Mr Ruddick, who said he has no place to live in Latvia, said: "We need somewhere to live.

The property in Highgate
The 10-bedroom house has running water, electricity and heating

"We really can't afford it (rent), because not all of us have jobs, not all of us can claim benefits, so we have no money to pay.

"If not for this squat many of us wouldn't have anywhere else to go and end up on the street."

He acknowledged that the group had put up posters in the area saying anybody trying to enter the house would be prosecuted.

"If we enter this property then it's in our possession, so the owner has to go to court to get us out unless he lives here."

Another squatter, who gave his name as Henry, said: "The law states... if there is any empty building which is not being used, you can put it to use in any way you see fit and what a shame to not get the most of this place."

The squatters received a court order for 19 January, but Mr Ruddick said he has already decided on his next home in the "very nice" Highgate area.

"I've already found it... 15 minutes away. It's finished, it's not being refurbished, it's better."

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