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Absentee Anderson and the faded-trouser philanthropists

Of all strata of society that perpetuate the current abusive and oppressive capitalist regime, the (ahem) landed gentry and landlord class is one of the worst. Despite the archaic terminology – there is much debate about whether the concept of class is still valid, and you can probably tell I’ve been reading too much 19th century polemic – this concept is still relevant today. In this case, the tradesmen of Tressell’s Mugsborough are students, and the landlord are, well, landlords. Students are shackled with a burden of debt that they will carry well into their twenties and thirties – I am lucky that I will emerge (hopefully) from my academic chrysalis with a degree or two and only (gasp) £30,000 of debt. I pity the poor souls who are paying £9 grand a year, and labouring under the pretence that education is an ‘investment’, rather than a right. To label the pursuit of knowledge such, and to commodify it, is a sore attempt to turn students into automatons who learn to pass exams throughout their schooling and university careers, primed and pumped for the plunge into the ‘real’ world where all but a lucky few are destined as fodder for the machine that turns human labour into gold for the 1% who sit getting fat on it at the top.

Landlords are part of this 1%. They do no work and accrue wealth from those who live in their properties, who are also often given the privilege of paying for their own repairs and being charged extortionate rents. The use of intermediaries (estate agents – the ultimate leeches on society) to further distance themselves from the tenants they are unashamedly ripping off illustrates their unwillingness to engage with real life, and their separation from everyone else.

These people believe they can extort vast sums of money from students who are already burdened with thousands of pounds worth of debt because they can. If all the landlords in an area are doing it, it’s ok, right? Elitist collusion allows this to happen – it’s the same as what’s happening in London and all over the Southeast – rents are being jacked up because everyone’s doing it, and all in the interests of a very few who are pissing themselves laughing at champagne dinners and clapping people like Boris Johnson on the back for “ruddy well doing it again”. Tory legislation, for instance recent laws clamping down on squatting, protects the rights of absentee landlords who are using their properties for diddly squat (excuse the pun), whilst removing a last resort for poor and homeless people and promulgating slanderous propaganda about no-good, jobless squatter junkies and middle-class white kids who go home to get a shower and their laundry done.

None of this is useful to anyone except the few people at the top who extort capital from the poor, and accrue wealth at others’ expense. These are the people who would like to perpetuate the status quo, because it is so obviously in their interest. These are the people that need to be resisted; in small ways, and in ways they understand; taking them to court for demanding more money for ‘damages’, withholding rent, and by tearing down the fabric of their system from around them.

British ban squatting to tackle ‘anarchists’ – Features – Al Jazeera English

” These are anticapitalist people and they shouldn’t be able to get away with it” What a prick!

Keith’s last interview.

RIP, live long and struggle hard.

British ban squatting to tackle ‘anarchists’ – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Grow Heathrow

Such lovely photos.

Amazing place, amazing project.

I’ll miss you K.

UK Squatting Law Change – effective 1st Sept 2012

SQUAT LAW CHANGE ALERT

The new law on squatting (s144 LASPO 2012) will be coming into force on the 1st September 2012.

Not everyone who is squatting, or considered by others to be squatting, will be affected by the new law, but people will need to be prepared to explain, quite forcefully at times, why they are not affected.

The wording of S144 starts:
(1)A person commits an offence if—
(a) the person is in a residential building as a trespasser having entered it as a trespasser,
(b) the person knows or ought to know that he or she is a trespasser, and
(c) the person is living in the building or intends to live there for any period.
(2)The offence is not committed by a person holding over after the end of a lease or licence (even if the person leaves and re-enters the building).

So Squatting is still legal in non-residential properties.

You are also not committing an offence if you have, or have had a tenancy or licence to live in the property, if you are not living or intending to live in the property, or if you do not know you are a trespasser (in which case you probably wouldn’t be reading this).

Tenancies and licences do not have to be in writing, but if people have reason to think they may be accused of breaking the law it would be best to collect as much paperwork as possible. Tenancies and licences can also have been granted by a tenant of the owner, or by an agent, possibly without the owner’s knowledge (but they can check and return).

Any police officer would need to have reasonable suspicion that you (or anyone) have committed a crime, to force entry and to carry out an arrest, so it can be in your interests to explain otherwise. But you do not have to talk to them, and explaining through a closed door or upstairs window can be preferable to letting them in.

Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 still applies against those trying to force entry without lawful authority. The problem is that the new law gives further lawful authority to the police to enter (in the circumstances covered by the law).

Advisory Service for Squatters
Correct as at 22nd August 2012. Check our / SQUASH website for updates

Inevitable, but terrible nonetheless

REBLOGGED FROM SQUASH

(http://www.squashcampaign.org/2012/03/all-over-squatting-in-residential-properties-criminalised/)

Squatting in residential properties to be criminalised within months

What a joke! All of it, the whole process. Last night the House of Lords passed a clause hidden in the legal aid bill to criminalise squatting in residential properties essentially making thousands of homeless people criminals overnight. A whole section of the very poorest and most vulnerable in society have been made criminals and again the debate took place extremely late in the day.

The harsh reality is that the government keeps enough peers at Parliament late at night if they face any risk of defeat while the rest of the Lords (Labour, Crossbenchers, Bishops & others) rarely stay after 8pm. Even though the debating chamber looked empty while the clause on squatting was raised – the government peers hang out behind the scenes (often in the bar) then come in and vote with the government – even though they often aren’t well informed as they weren’t at the debate.

Democracy is dead. 96% of responses to the governments consultation didn’t want to see any action taken on squatting but despite this the government ignored the results to its own consultation. You have to ask what is the point of having a consultation in the first place? To make matters worse, every debate that took place throughout the parliamentary process happened late at night meaning attendance was consistently low, this despite we had gained a lot of support from various sections in the House of Lords.

It’s difficult to comprehend. Its no mistake that such a serious issue got thrown into legislation three days before it was due to pass. Our clause was added so late on that it was right at the end of the bill – meaning it was continuously discussed at the end of the day when most people were in bed. As noted by a number of peers throughout the process in the House of Lords, the new law was never properly discussed or analysed at the Commons stage, which is why it’s such an absurdly shoddy piece of legislation. It’s disgusting that a law with such serious implications for so many can be ushered in through the back door in this way.

To their credit, at such a late hour, a number of Lords came out strongly opposed to criminalisation last night and there were some really powerful speeches. There was consensus in the chamber that the clause is unjust, unnecessary and unaffordable and Lord Bassam (Labour Chief Whip) indicated Labours support on Twitter late last night. Which makes it all much harder to take in – when after midnight Baroness Miller symbolically pushed one of her amendments to a vote and we lost by a landslide.

The SQUASH campaign are gutted but we tried our best and will fight on. There were many victories along the way but to be honest we never stood a chance. The government want to send out a message so ultimately it doesn’t really matter who and what stands in their way; The Law SocietyThe Metropolitan PoliceThe Criminal Bar AssociationThe Magistrates AssociationCrisisShelter160 legal expertsacademics,journalists and of course squatters themselves.

The time for lobbying is now definitely over and I doubt many within SQUASH ever want to do anything like it again. The whole process is alienating, demoralising and lacking common-sense. There are many battles ahead for squatters and poor people across the country. This has always been a right-wing attack to defend and enhance private property rights over the human right to shelter and we now have to defend ourselves.

Criminalisation is not immediate and we still have a few months to prepare.

Buddy up. Defend your squats. Set up anti-eviction networks. Keep squatting. Do it.