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The Use and Abuse of Stereotypes - The Pale Queen of Nowhere

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July 6th, 2011

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01:52 pm - The Use and Abuse of Stereotypes

Just whose image of squatters is "middle class treehuggers ekeing out an alternative lifestyle in someone else's home"? Anyone I have ever had to deal with squatting has been either mentally ill or prevented from claiming benefits.

Where exactly are all these inadequate, patronising stereotypes the current government seems to be trying to exploit coming from? Every time I pick up a newspaper it seems to be referencing apparently commonly-held ideas I've only just heard of.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2011 12:55 pm (UTC)
I know plenty of people, mainly anarchists, who have squatted for ideological reasons - but they did it in disused factories, shops or houses that had been left to rot, not buildings where the owner had immediate plans for use, and the intention in many cases was to open up space for people who didn't have much other choice. The stories about people's homes being invaded when they go on holiday (my old landlord was paranoid about this one, I didn't tell him that most of the people I'd trust to water my plants had been squatters at one point or another) might not be an absolute myth, but it certainly isn't the standard.
[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2011 12:58 pm (UTC)
At a time when this much housing stock is sitting empty because of the recession, surely it can't be that bad to make a house that no one wants livable for a while?
Date:July 6th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
I think that most would agree. However the current law doesn't recognise the difference between abandoned/genuinely unoccupied properties and the horror stories nelsolidarida referenced above.

At the moment it is extremely difficult for legitimate owners to recover their own homes because it is not illeagal for someone else to take up residence, change the locks and refuse to leave.

It gets more complicated when you take into consideration situations where people agree a rental deal, pay the first month and then refuse, which has happend to a colleague of mine at work. Again trying to get his property back is unbelievably difficult.

I personally think that there needs to be a more varied approach with the law to reflect the hugely differing situations. One immediate change which might help is to reverse the ruling by which Housing Benefit was no longer paid to the landlord, but to the claimant. This led to a large number of landlords refusing to take DSS tennants as a result of a huge rise in non payment from said tennants.
[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC)
The squatters I've known were either long-term homeless or friends of the same, crashing at their squat for company. That news article reminds me of a Newport councillor I used to talk to (a friends' dad - I've since fallen out with the friend). He was Lib Dem to the core, but still ridiculously up his own arse. He didn't believe Newport had an unemployment or homeless problem as "this isn't the 70's" (point of reference - conversation took place 9 months before a recession was declared).

When I pushed him on a few questions he revealed that he had only spoken with workmates, friends of the family and those constituents who came to Lib Dem meetings in the last 10 years or so. He didn't go into town unless in a car en route to the Civic Centre where he worked, and generally lived life in a bubble. He "knew" what life was in Newport, because that image was all that he ever saw and no-one saw fit to correct him.

We rely on our horrifically biased media too much, I think,
[User Picture]
Date:July 6th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
Hmm, my old Housing Benefit form of a few years ago gave the option of benefit being paid straight to the landlord. I don't think there's anything against it in law as such.
[User Picture]
Date:July 7th, 2011 11:35 am (UTC)
I only have one experience with squatters, through a friend of mine.
Him & his other half both had a flat. They lived in hers and rented his out.
When they decided the relationship was at the right point they put both flats on the market & looked for a house together.
He told his tenants what was happening all through the process.
When they sold the flats & put a deposit on a house he told them dates in plenty of time. He even took their house deposit as the last months rent so they could use the normal rent money for a deposit else where.
They didn't bother to look. The day before they should have moved out they rang the council & told them they were going to be made homeless.
The council told them to squat.
He lost the buyers for the flat, he lost the house he was going to buy & he had to pay loads of fees to get them evicted.
They weren't squatting for any ethical reasons and they caused a lot of mental & financial anguish.

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