A tiny corner of Hampstead Heath owned by Britain’s richest homeless man is set to sell for £95,000.
The half-acre plot of land in the upmarket London suburb is going under the hammer at a Savills auction in June.
Harry Hallowes set up camp in a makeshift shack in a corner on the heath in 1987 after being evicted from his council home.
He won the deeds in 2007 after being granted squatter’s rights and made by by doing odd jobs for locals, including film director Terry Gilliam.
New home: Harry Hallowes, pictured above in May 2007, won the deeds to the piece of land he had called home since the 1980s after being awarded squatter’s rights in 2007
Secluded: Mr Hallowes’s piece of land, pictured above in 2007, is to now go up for auction with a guide price of £95,000
The Irishman passed away aged 88 two years ago and left the grounds to homeless charities Shelter and Centrepoint.
His remarkable story was retold on the silver screen in the 2017 feature film Hampstead starring Brendan Gleeson.
The average house value in Hampstead is a staggering £1,467,000 – making this piece of land a bargain.
Now the piece of land that was Mr Hallowes’s home for decades has been put up for sale, with the two charities hoping it will fetch more than £95,000 at auction, thanks to its desirable location.
But prospective owners will be subjected to strict planning regulations and will be unable to build on the half-acre plot.
Humble home: Harry Hallowes, pictured above in March 2005, moved onto the piece of land after being evicted from his council house in London back in 1987
Home comforts: Mr Hallowes made the spot his home over the years, collecting various items on the site and building his own kitchen and bathing area
Up for auction: The half-acre plot of land in the upmarket London suburb, its online listing pictured above, is going under the hammer at a Savills auction in June
A legal agreement drawn up in 1923 states that no building of ‘any kind’ can be constructed on the plot of land.
How can you claim squatter’s rights?
Squatting means occupying empty buildings, or land, without permission.
Someone who is occupying a property without the owners’ permission can become the registered owner with the help of a conveyancer or solicitor.
To do so, they would have to prove that they or their predecessors occupied the property for 10 years (or 12 if the property is not registered); that they acted as owners of the property for the entire time, and that they didn’t have the owner’s permission.
The owner would have 65 days to object to any application, which would be automatically rejected as a result.
Occupying a residential building without the owners’ permission is against the law and carries a fine of £5,000, a six-month prison sentence or both.
However, occupying commercial properties is not against the law. When inside, squatters would have to be careful as to not cause damage as that would be illegal. Refusing to leave when asked by the police or owner is also against the law.
Police may take other action against the unlawful occupant if they commit offences such as damage or theft, using gas and electricity without permission or fly tipping.
The law around squatting is complex, but if those know what they are doing it can prove fruitful.
In 2001, artist Jack Blackburn was given squatter’s rights of a one-bedroom flat in Brixton, worth at the time £250,000. The same property today is worth in the region of £600,000.
According to Savills the land is ‘unique’, with its auction site stating: ‘Land South of Hampstead Lane – a unique irregular shaped site of approximately 7,000 sq ft on Hampstead Heath, made famous through the film ‘Hampstead’, well located for the popular amenities of Hampstead and Highgate.’
It states that the land is ‘vacant’, adding that it is a ‘freehold’ site, describing it as an ‘an irregular shaped overgrown site’.
It states: ‘There may be further potential (subject to requisite consents)
‘The site was made famous through the film ‘Hampstead’, starring Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson
‘The film is based on the real-life story of the late Henry Hallowes, who lived on the site for over 20 years.’
It adds: ‘The site is located to the south of Hampstead Lane, on the north-east side of the Heath
‘Highgate and Hampstead both provide an extensive range of popular shopping facilities and restaurants
‘Hampstead Heath is one of London’s most popular open spaces, providing a range of recreational amenities to the surrounding area
Marc Hutchinson, chairman of the Heath and Hampstead Society, told the Camden New Journal newspaper this week: ‘There are covenants on it, so no one can use it for a building.
‘Its only possible function for a private buyer would be as a garden – the society wishes it to be purchased to be made part of the Heath and would be happy to be a part of that purchasing arrangement.’
A spokesman for Savills said the site would be sold at auction on June 18 at the Marriott Hotel in Grosvenor Square.
Andy Harris, of Shelter, said: ‘There has been a lot of interest from neighbours, community groups and the City of London, all of whom we are reaching out to.
‘Following this process, we expect to sell the land and use the proceeds to deliver homelessness services in accordance with Mr Hallowes’s wishes.’
Rest in peace: Mr Hallowees, outside his shack in May 2007, passed away in 2016 at the age of 88 – almost a decade after he officially became the owner of the land
New beginnings: Mr Hallowes left his shack and the deeds to the land to homeless charities Shelter and Centrepoint who hope it will fetch up to £95,000 at auction next month