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What to do if you have Squatters

If you find squatters in your property, as a landlord you will need to act quickly as it can cause a large amount of stress for you, without getting into the expense of the legal process. It is usually advisable to first try and persuade any squatters to leave the property peacefully.

Due to the laws in the UK you are not allowed to use force or threats of violence to remove a squatter as this can result in you getting a criminal record. It is always advisable to have a witness with you at all times in case you are accused as it is difficult to disprove.

The legal process for removing squatters has been sped up due to the Interim Possession Order. You can use a solicitor to deal with this or you can to do this yourself as long as you have the correct information.

You can apply for an interim possession order if individuals occupy the premises without the owners’ consent; however there are a number of requirements including:

  • The property being inhabited must be classed as a building, part of a building or land ancillary to a building
  • As the owner you have immediate right to possession of the property and this right existed for the entire time it has been occupied
  • Your claim must be made within 28 days of becoming aware of your property being occupied, otherwise a judge will consider whether you were aware sooner
  • The individuals have not been given the right to live at the premises by a legal tenant
  • A claim is only made to recover possession of the property

Within a few days the court should issue the claim, you must then serve court papers within 24 hours either in person or attach it to the front door of the building. The squatters will be required to leave within 24 hours and not return within 12 months.

If the squatter/s refuses to leave they are committing a criminal offence and risk being arrested by the police or being evicted by a court bailiff. They may also be subject to a fine or imprisonment or both.

The squatters are entitled to defend at a further hearing, where a final Possession Order will be made. If at this stage the squatters in your property, court bailiff can evict with the help of the police if necessary. Once you have regained possession, it is advised that all locks on the premise are changed.