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Taking the Right Steps
Squatting is when someone deliberately enters a property without permission and lives there or intends to live there. This is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’.
Property owners in the city centre should always ensure that empty premises are safe, secure and regularly checked. It is generally considered best practice to have a corporate “void” strategy if you own a large number of empty properties. The strategy should include a system of visual inspections, safety checks, utility checks and general dilapidation.
If squatting takes place, owners should take steps to ensure that no-one is put at risk and that repossession is achieved.
Reporting an Issue
On discovering a squat, your first action is to inform Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service. They have powers to ensure that the premises are not an immediate risk to life. In the event of an emergency, call 999.
GMFRS will then share intelligence with Greater Manchester Police, Manchester City Council and ourselves at CityCo. Often in the cases of absentee landlords, the network will rely on community intelligence to locate a responsible person. Squats will often appoint a spokesperson who may liaise with GMFRS and the Council over their intentions and welfare needs, such as housing, travel costs and medical issues.
Property owners should instruct a solicitor to seek repossession as soon as possible, to limit potential damages and liabilities. Repossession can be granted through a court order, and that order will be served by court appointed bailiffs. The police generally only attend in a supporting role to keep the peace.
For further understanding regarding the rights and removal of squatters please follow this government advice.
If you are a CityCo or Manchester BID Member, and have have any concerns you would like to raise with CityCo’s Operations team direct, especially if urgent, please call 07917 058 412.