Squatters Taking Up Residence In London
Right now around 2.5 percent of all homes in London are empty, according to the Empty Homes Agency, a nonprofit that looks to put empty houses back in use. Those who job it is to tend to these homes are quite busy. The Wall Street Journal recently profiled Paul Palmer who is the Westminster City Council's empty-property officer. He investigates vacant homes and tries to find their owners. Some homes have been abandoned but others are paid up but still vacant. In some cases if a property is empty without effort on the owner's part to occupy, rent or renovate it, there is a system in British law which forces the owner to give up possession. At this point many owners sell the homes but if no owner comes forward the house can still be sold with the funds ending up in a local court where they can wait for up to seven years for the original owners to claim their money. Palmer seems to be more on the side of the squatters than the owners. The end of the Journal article has him talking about going in and having tea with one set of squatters. Is it just me or do London's home squatters sound a bit more polite than the ones we hear about in the U.S.?