UK Squatters Wait Out Recession in Mansions

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 17, 2009 2:24 PM CST
A warning sign is stuck to the front door of a property on Rudlett Place, Primrose Hill which has been taken over by squatters on August 31, 2007, in London, England.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – In the middle of one of London’s ritziest neighborhoods, a dozen young artists are lounging in the scantly lit living room of a $33 million mansion, eating curry made from ingredients found in the trash. The current recession has reignited England’s passion for squatting, the Washington Post reports. “It’s better for a building to be occupied than empty,” reasoned one squatter. “We’re artists, and we’re doing something good with the space.”

The building’s owners don’t agree, says their lawyer. “In nine out of 10 countries this would not be tolerated, and the police would remove them,” he said. But Britain has long been sympathetic to squatters. Trespassing is only a civil offense, so unless squatters start doing damage, police generally can't act. “We look at it as a social good,” said a squatting advocate.