How to evict squatters in UK


Evicting squatters in the UK involves following a specific legal process to ensure that the eviction is carried out correctly and lawfully. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to evict squatters in the UK:

1. Determine the Type of Property

  • Residential Property: Squatting in a residential property is a criminal offence under Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.
  • Non-Residential Property: Squatting in commercial or non-residential properties is a civil matter.

2. Contact the Police (for Residential Properties)

If squatters are in a residential property, you can report them to the police as it is a criminal offence. The police can remove and arrest the squatters if they are indeed squatting.

serve an eviction notice

3. Serve a Notice to Leave

For non-residential properties:

  • Serve the squatters with a written notice to leave the property. The notice should clearly state that they are required to vacate the premises.
  • The notice period can vary, but giving them 24 to 48 hours is generally acceptable.

4. Apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO)

If the squatters do not leave after the notice period:

  • Apply for an IPO from the local county court. This is a quicker way to regain possession of the property.
  • You must apply for an IPO within 28 days of discovering the squatters.

Steps to Obtain an IPO:

  1. Complete the Application Forms: You need to fill out forms N5 (Claim form for possession of property) and N130 (Application for an interim possession order).
  2. Submit the Forms: Submit these forms to the county court along with a witness statement.
  3. Serve the IPO: If granted, the court will issue the IPO, which you must serve on the squatters within 48 hours of receiving it. The court will also set a date for a full hearing.

5. Full Possession Order

  • If the squatters do not leave within 24 hours of being served with the IPO, you can apply for a full possession order.
  • Attend the court hearing, where the judge will decide whether to grant the full possession order.
  • If granted, you can then request a warrant for possession if the squatters still refuse to leave.

6. Enforce the Possession Order

  • If necessary, the court can authorise bailiffs to remove the squatters from the property.

7. Seek Professional Legal Advice

It is advisable to seek legal advice throughout this process to ensure all steps are followed correctly and to avoid any potential legal pitfalls.

Additional Considerations

  • Do not attempt to forcibly remove the squatters yourself: This can lead to criminal charges against you.
  • Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all notices served, court applications, and interactions with the squatters.

Following this process ensures that you handle the eviction legally and minimise any potential complications.

Commercial properties

Squatting on a commercial property that isn’t designed to be lived on is not actually a crime, but it becomes one if the building is subjected to any criminal damage. This includes breaking and entering, causing damage to the property, stealing from the property, fly-tipping, etc.

To gain your property back, you must apply for an Interim Possession Order, which, if all followed correctly, should be obtainable within a couple of days. You cannot request an IPO if more than 28 days have passed since you discovered the squatters or you’re already claiming damages caused by the squatters

Prevention

Squatters most commonly enter a property when it is vacant between tenancies. However, the following tips can prevent this.

  • Visit the property often; this will give the impression that it’s occupied. If you can’t visit the property, hire a security guard to keep watch over the building. Alternatively, persuade a neighbour or cleaner to pay regular visits.
  • Don’t leave a property vacant for long periods of time
  • Install curtains or blinds in vacant properties to give the illusion of a tenant living there
  • Install adequate security measures, such as alarms.
  • Don’t leave windows open as there will be no evidence of forced entry

If dealing with squatters, you’re urged to seek legal advice and consult with experts trained in dealing with squatters. Landlords can receive further information at https://www.gov.uk/