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Guide to Removing Squatters from Private Property

Squatting or the illegal entry into private property with the intention of residing is a criminal offence in the UK. When landowners follow the legal process of removing squatters from their property but said squatters refuse to leave, owners may seek help from the local police.

Any deviation from the legal process can reverse the outcomes and the law will turn against the landowners instead. To prevent such from happening, follow this guide from MS Webb on how to legally remove squatters from private property.

What You Need to Know About Squatters’ Rights

It’s important to know about squatters’ rights first so that you’ll know your boundaries and avoid what the law considers as a criminal act.

Here are some key points about Squatters’ Rights in the UK:

  1. Squatters in non-residential buildings are technically not committing a crime. The police can only evict them from the property if they “committed a crime” such as damaging the property, stealing, fly-tipping and using the utilities without permission (this is considered as theft).

  2. Squatters who lived for 10 years in a privately-owned property (12 years for properties not registered with the HM Land Registry) and kept the rightful owners away may claim the property legally.

  3. Squatters who are former tenants cannot be evicted under trespassing laws. Landowners must follow the civil process for evicting them.

  4. Owners who force entry into their property or remove squatters by force can be charged for criminal acts.

As the law protects the rights of squatters, it also offers the same courtesy to property owners by providing legal steps by which they can reclaim their property.

There are two steps to removing squatters:

  1. Via Interim Position Order or IPO

  2. Via a Claim for Possession

Interim Possession Orders

This is the best way to evict squatters if it’s been 28 days or less since you first learned of their presence in your private property.

Essentially, you must apply for an IPO at your local county court as soon as you discover squatters in your land, house or building. Keep in mind the squatters’ rights stipulation that a 10- to 12-year uninterrupted stay can give squatters legal ownership of your property.

Once the courts grant your IPO, you’ll need to present the documents of eviction to the squatters. They will then have 24 hours to vacate the premises and stay away from your property for 12 months. If they violate any of these two, they can go to jail.

An IPO isn’t applicable, however, to tenants/former tenants who refuse to leave your rental property.

Claim for Possession

What if 28 days had already passed and you were unable to file an IPO? Your alternative would be to file a claim for possession. It is a court order that will allow you to repossess your property. It’s typically done by landlords who wish to reclaim their properties from non-paying tenants.

A claim for possession is also ideal if you plan to make a claim for damages done on your property.

Follow these Legal Steps for Effective Eviction

The above are overviews of the legal steps in evicting squatters. If you want a truly smooth-sailing experience, no need to look further than MS Webb. Our Certified Enforcement Bailiffs can carry out eviction procedures and ensure that squatters heed the court order for their immediate departure.

Call us on 0844 544 4804 or fill out our contact form to book a free consultation.

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