Squatters Invade Student House
Over the summer, Southampton is deserted. The 25,000 students who normally fill the streets and shops are gone. This means hundreds of student properties are left empty, leaving them vulnerable […]
Over the summer, Southampton is deserted. The 25,000 students who normally fill the streets and shops are gone. This means hundreds of student properties are left empty, leaving them vulnerable for the criminal underclass to exploit. The biggest worry for most students is an opportunistic burglar stealing a laptop through an open window. However for one house in leafy Highfield, something much worse happened over the summer break.
On returning to her house before freshers week, Jenny* found that the locks on the doors had been changed. Thinking it was a typical landlord cock-up, they called him. He was completely unaware of any changes to the locks and when they entered the house they found that someone had been squatting in the house.
Clothes in their wardrobes had been worn, beds slept in and even their toastie maker had been stolen. They found condoms in the bathroom and cigarette butts in the lounge. For a house of only girls, this invasion of privacy and personal space must have been terrifying.
When the police arrived and removed the squatter, they informed the girls that, because they couldn’t prove who had broken in and changed the lock, they couldn’t press charges and that it was a matter for the civil courts.
According to the squatter, a man named “Eddie” was his landlord and that rent was paid to him. This is why the police couldn’t make an arrest.
It appears the squatter was a Polish handyman or labourer and could have been living with his girlfriend.
A situation such as this shows that we students really have to be careful about our security. But in this case, it is not just the fault of students. The landlord clearly failed to check his vulnerable properties over the summer and failed to make sure they were secure. The Tab’s advice here is to make sure you pressure your landlord about the security of your house!
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.