As new legislation comes into play to protect homeowners from squatters, the UK’s largest equestrian charity, The British Horse Society is calling for ‘equine squatting’ to be made a criminal offence.
From 1 September squatting in a residential property has become a criminal matter. A homeowner can simply complain to the police who, if satisfied that the claim is genuine, can take action and arrest the squatters. The maximum penalty will be six months in jail, a £5,000 fine, or both.
The British Horse Society believes that similar legislation is now needed to protect owners of fields from the indiscriminate practice of ‘fly grazing’ which is proliferating in certain areas of the country.
Mark Weston Director of Access, Safety and Welfare, said: “Landowners are in an impossible position if a horse owner refuses to remove a horse or does not come forward. They need legislation to protect and assist them with this problem. At present it can be extremely expensive and upsetting for landowners to secure the removal of such horses from their land.”
Lee Hackett, Senior Executive Welfare said: “The numbers of horses being abandoned has increased in the recession as people struggle to feed their pets. The problem is particularly bad in Wales and around the M25 corridor.”