If someone is squatting on your property, whether it be residential or commercial, it’s important to know your rights. As a landlord, you have legal ownership of the property and anyone taking unwanted residence there is classified as a trespasser. You have the right to remove any individuals, but the eviction process must comply with squatters rights and UK legislation.
The process of squatter eviction can be done in four ways:
- Asking the police to remove them from the property
- Hiring an enforcement team
- Taking the matter to court
- Asking the squatters to leave.
Asking squatters to leave is the least effective method, and many landlords want to take legal action after discovering trespassers on their land. However, squatters must be given the choice to voluntarily leave before being forcefully evicted.
Squatting removal can be taken to court, so is it an illegal act?
Is it illegal?
The short answer is, yes. It is illegal for someone to squat on residential land or in a residential property. By UK law is it classified as a criminal act and squatters can be arrested and charged with trespassing.
Squatting on residential land is also referred to as ‘adverse possession’, where someone intentionally enters a property and lives there without permission from the owner. Residential squatting can lead to a fine of up to £5000 and a 6-month prison sentence, should the homeowners take the matter to court. Squatters who cause damage to the property, whether it’s from forced entry or damage done whilst living there, can face further charges.
If someone is squatting on your residential property, you can take it to court, call the police or contact an enforcement agency. Court proceedings to remove illegal squatters can take three to four weeks, and solicitors will encourage you to act quickly. You can apply for an IPO (Interim Possession Order) within 28 days of noticing squatters on your property. After the application has been processed and accepted, you have 48 hours to inform the squatters and give them any legal documents provided by the courts.
When squatters are removed with an IPO, they cannot return to the property within a 12 month period, regardless of whether the land is commercial or residential. Unfortunately, squatting on commercial property is just a civil offence rather than a criminal one, and so removal has to be done a little differently. It can still be taken to court, but the property owner will need to make a claim for possession.
How County Enforcement can help
At County Enforcement, our team of squatter removal experts will work with you to resolve the situation, evicting trespassers from residential properties. We work in an efficient and professional manner, quickly resolving your squatting issues. County Enforcement has over 30 years of experience within the industry, dealing with the removal of squatters, protesters and travellers.
If you are in need of a squatter eviction service, don’t hesitate to contact County Enforcement today, we are here to help. Visit our eviction services page to learn more about the process and what we can do for you.