January 22, 2009

Squatters move into London mansions

A pair of seven-story mansions on London's posh Park Lane have been taken over by a group of about 20 squatters and their three large dogs.

The squatters, ranging in age from 21 to 45, said they moved into the mansions, which together are worth about $41.6 million, about two months ago, The Sun reported Thursday.

There's quite a large squatters community in London and we always pass on information, said one squatter, 27-year-old Martin of Cape Town, South Africa. We'd noticed these houses had been empty for about two years. We got in through an open basement door.

The mansions, which are located only yards from a luxury home owned by pop star Madonna, are owned by Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, the Duke of Westminster, with leaseholds controlled by property investment firms based in Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands.

The Sun said the owners were unaware of the squatters until they were contacted by the newspaper and no action had been taken to remove the residents as of Wednesday night.

Squatting is allowed under British law provided entry to the empty property is not forced and the squatters do not cause any criminal damage.