Licensed squatting

The first London Squatters Campaign squat at Redbridge was important because it ensured that owners seeking eviction went through the courts, thus giving squatters some level of security. It also led other councils to take action to avoid conflict with squatters in their area. Lewisham council was the first to begin negotiations with squatters in the borough in June 1969. An agreement to license the short-term use of empty properties was reached and in December the first family moved into a licensed squat. Within a few months, the Lewisham Family Squatting Association had over 80 houses. During the next five years, it housed around 100 families at a time.

Licensed squatting began to spread to other London boroughs: Tower Hamlets, Greenwich and Lambeth made agreements with squatting groups in their areas. In September 1970, the Family Squatting Advisory Service (FSAS) was set up with a grant from the homelessness charity Shelter to 'service, support and maintain contact with existing groups and to initiate the setting up of new groups by researching possibilities, development plans, etc in new areas, by contacting and bringing together interested people for this purpose and by assisting and advising at every stage of the negotiations if needed'.

A model agreement between councils and family squatting associations was drawn up and FSAS also produced a series of detailed information sheets on legal, practical and organisational aspects of squatting, as well as 'Squat', a bi-monthly news magazine.

Interest-free loans and grants of £20 were made available to local groups. The FSAS helped to negotiate agreements with other councils. By mid 1973, they estimated there were 2500 licensed squatters in 16 London boroughs.