Housing crisis raising demand for squatter cleaning
Rising homelessness and continued pressure on housing available in the UK is likely to increase demand for specialist squat and empty home cleaning.
The Government has pledged to get to grips with the housing shortage, but it will take years, not months, for any action taken to have a significant effect.
In the meantime, owners of properties that are squatted, or used as temporary shelter by homeless people, are likely to need specialist squat cleaning services when they regain possession.
In a recent case, 20 squatters took over an empty garage in Brixton, South London, and were reported to have installed a kitchen, electric power and even a vegetable garden before they were evicted.
Steve Broughton, CleanSafe Services Managing Director, said: “There is no evidence that these squatters created a mess. But many squat cleaning projects we’re involved with do involve property being left in a terrible condition.
“Some squatters treat properties with respect, using it as a home like most other people do. But some squatters live chaotic lives. They may abuse drugs, and have mental health problems that contribute to squatted properties being very badly contaminated and damaged.”
In many cases, the properties had been empty for legitimate reasons. For example, they may have been cleared for demolition and refurbishment – projects that are delayed by squatters moving in.
Squat deep cleaning
CleanSafe Services specialist squat deep cleaning teams have to follow a rigorous cleaning regime to ensure their operatives remain safe, and the work is done to a high enough standard to allow the property owner or other contractors to enter the building safely.
This often involves sharps removal, and clearing of drugs paraphernalia, bio-hazard containment cleaning, to remove excrement and urine, fumigation for lice and other insect pests, rat and mouse infestation clearance, graffiti removal, and the safe disposal of food waste.
Squat cleaning often also involves the clearing of large amounts of furniture and personal belongings that can be abandoned by squatters, or so contaminated by their actions that they need to be disposed of.
Safe and hygienic
Also, CleanSafe Services squat cleaning teams may have to work in structures that derelict, or have been significantly altered or damaged by the squatters. So, specific actions need to be built into risk assessments and method statements drawn up to ensure cleaning is completed effectively and safely.
Steve Broughton said: “Our squat cleaning teams are often among the first contractors to enter a squat once a court order has been served and the squatters have left.
“This is highly specialist work, requiring specific personal protective equipment (PPE) and expertise. With the continuing housing shortage, there is no sign that demand for our services will diminish in the near future.”