The public perception of squatters is getting a bit of an overhaul again after residents in Herne Hill, south London, started a petition to get Lambeth council to allow four squatters to stay in a house they took over a year ago.
Their popularity amongst their neighbours could be partly due to the cinema they have set up in one of the rooms, but looking after a house which had been empty for three years may have won them a few friends too. Lambeth claim the squatters are 'depriving needy families' by occupying the house, but given their less than exemplary record when it comes to housing, it's a statement that's difficult to support, not least because if the Herne Hill squatters were evicted they would presumably still need to be housed elsewhere.
Lambeth and squatters have had a somewhat turbulent affair: the council were forced last year to hand over details of empty properties under the Freedom of Information Act and in just one of many embarrassingly high profile cases, lost a £100,000 flat to a man who had taken over a burnt out shell and spent the next 13 years renovating it after it was abandoned by the council.
It's not the first time we've come across stories about squatters doing interesting and worthwhile things with the properties they live in - the Temporary School of Thought held a free three-week university city in 2009, arts group the Oubliette took up residence in Leicester Square and squatters in De Beauvoir Square won the respect of their neighbours when they cleaned up an empty house and even helped with viewings.