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How to Get Rid of Travellers: 2 Legal Ways

A vast expanse of undeveloped land has a lot of potential. You can sell it when the time (and price) is right or develop it for commercial or residential use. If you have no plans just yet, you can leave the property as-is and enjoy its rawness, i.e., go camping for a weekend with your family or friends, for the meantime.

You must be prepared, however, for the possibility of travellers finding their way into your property. This is one of the disadvantages of having vast, undeveloped land in the U.K. The country’s housing crisis has driven many to adopt a nomadic lifestyle. Normally, these travellers would set-up temporary encampments and would leave by their own volition after a few days or weeks. Some, unfortunately, overstay their welcome and cause all sorts of problems for landowners and the land itself:

  1. Organic waste and rubbish can accumulate.

  2. If the travellers have animals with them, the risk for contamination and damage to the land increases.

  3. Travellers of the rowdy sort might not treat the land with respect and disregard the standards of behaviour expected of travellers.

  4. The same type of travellers might harass or intimidate others who are legally allowed in the area.

  5. The presence of unauthorised campers might discourage potential investors, partners or buyers interested in the land.

If you own several hectares of undeveloped land that’s becoming a popular stop for travellers, you need to be aware of the legal procedures for evicting unwelcome travellers to your property. Once the court gives the eviction notices, MS Webbcan carry out the eviction on your behalf.

The Landowner’s Responsibility

You may allow travellers to set-up camp in your property, but you must be clear about how long they are welcome. If they renege on their promise of leaving, you may begin the legal process of driving them away from your premises.

If your first instinct might be to call the police, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Trespassing is a civil matter and not a criminal case. The police have no jurisdiction over it, so they can’t carry out evictions for you.

So how do you remove unauthorised travellers from your property? You have two options:

1. A Common Law Eviction

Assert your right to evict travellers using reasonable force with Section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act. The process begins by asking travellers to leave the area within 24 hours. This must be carried out by Certified Enforcement Officers or bailiffs. If the travellers insist on staying after this period, the bailiffs may remove them from the property using reasonable force.

The police may be present during the eviction, but they cannot participate in it. They are expected to monitor the process to ensure that there are no protocol breaches or illegal eviction practices. The police may also intervene if two or more trespassers use threatening and abusive language or behaviour towards the legal occupants and owners of the land; caused damage to the land or property erected in the area (e.g., gates, fences, barns); or brought six or more vehicles into their illegal camp.

2. Writ of Possession

This process is similar to using common law, but it can cost more and take longer. The advantage, however, is that once the order of eviction is passed and travellers break it, it will become a criminal offence. The police will then have jurisdiction, become involved in the eviction and jail those who refuse to leave.

The process for the Writ of Possession begins by asking the travellers to leave. If they refuse, the owners can file for an order of possession citing Part 55 Civil Procedure Rules in court. A hearing will be set where the court will issue a writ. This must then be served to the illegal settlers in the property (posting the writ where it is prominently visible is also acceptable). If they still refuse to leave, the owner must go to the court again and ask for a possession order and court hearing. Once the judge issues the eviction order, a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) can enforce the removal of the travellers from the property.

You may allow travellers to set-up camp in your property as an act of kindness, but when they refuse to leave at the time they were supposed to, you can do the procedures above so that they will be legally evicted (and even banned) from your land.

Both procedures require the services of professional bailiffs who know how to approach travellers and minimise conflict and aggression while delivering an official request to leave. Our bailiffs at MS Webb have the experience and people skills necessary for this job.

Call us on 0844 544 4804 or send a message through our contact form to request a free consultation.

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