Celebrity chef’s luxury pub takeover serves up squatters’ rights debate

Squatters have taken over Gordon Ramsay's multimillion-dollar London pub.

Squatters have taken over Gordon Ramsay's multimillion-dollar London pub. Photo: One Table/Instagram

A group of artists has taken over celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s £13 million ($25 million) London pub as part of a global trend of squatting in empty properties.

At least six people have boarded up windows and put up a “legal warning” defending their occupation of the Grade II-listed York & Albany Hotel and gastropub near upmarket Regent’s Park.

It comes as Australian rental advocate Jordan van den Berg has launched an online campaign encouraging people to occupy empty properties.

The building in Camden that has been taken over by the squatters is on the market for £13 million, but the new occupants have other plans.

In a statement shared to Instagram under the name Camden Art Cafe, the squatters said they planned to open the doors to the people of Camden, who have “been victims of gentrification and parasitic projects”.

The Camden Art Cafe hopes to provide free food, drinks and be a space for art to be displayed “without the ridiculous red tape that galleries require people to jump over”.

“Camden is a borough with one of the biggest wealth disparities in London, so it seems only fitting that £13-million properties that most locals would never be able to afford to visit should be opened up to all,” the statement continued.

“The York & Albany is an iconic building in Camden since its opening in the 1820s; it has withstood wars and bombs, and despite what the media says, it will withstand the potentially short but hopefully long stay we squatters have here.

“At a time when Camden Market has been bought out by a billionaire and many longstanding local businesses are being evicted from their units, it’s even more important that we all band together in all the forms of resistance that we know and can.”

Squatters taking over

Meanwhile in Australia, Van den Berg, best known online as Purple Pingers, has accumulated an audience by talking about rental rights and inequality.

He recently brought squatters’ rights into focus in Australia when he made a TikTok video letting people know they could tip him off about any vacant homes.

The database has been kept private, but Van den Berg has been able to match people needing a secure place to sleep at night with a vacant home, according to The Feed.

“Do you think it’s right that we have 1000s of vacant abandoned homes while we have people living on the street?” he retorted when asked on The Project if encouraging people to squat was the way to fix the housing issue.

Van den Berg managed to enrage far-right Americans, which prompted him to allow Americans to submit vacant homes.

There have also been instances of people squatting in the US.

One man from Long Island failed to pay his mortgage for 25 years. Even when the mortgage was foreclosed, however, the company that took ownership of the property struggled to evict him for decades.

Recently, NBC New York reported that a couple bought a property in Queens planning to renovate it. But while waiting for the permits, someone broke into and stayed there.

“Owning a home, that’s the American dream. But some people have turned it into the American nightmare,” New York State Senator John Liu told NBC New York.

Vacant home database

Source: TikTok/Purplepingers

Squatters’ rights in Australia

Housing is a human right – though some are arguing it has become a privilege in the country’s current housing crisis.

Sydney Criminal Lawyers told The New Daily that if someone could exclusively “squat” in an abandoned property for an extended period of time, they could launch a claim to its title.

The time period differs. It’s 12 years in NSW and 15 in Victoria, for example.

“While property owners might consider this law a bit unfair, it is important to note that under the adverse possession laws, a land owner has a responsibility to use, protect, and maintain their own property,” the law firm said.

“The law considers the original owner to have rescinded their responsibility and right to maintain the land if it is abandoned for an extended period of time.”

Someone seeking housing may run into trouble if they break into an abandoned property.

If the property appears to be abandoned, and the door is unlocked, then squatting is not illegal. But if someone is asked to leave by the owner, they can get into trouble for trespassing.

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