Evict Squatters: How to Get Rid of a Squatter

5 min read
How to Evict Squatters, a guide from Parachute Law

Many landlords face the difficult task of having to evict squatters and it becomes more and more frequent during housing or employment crises.

If you are in this unfortunate position it is important to understand what you can, and cannot do, under the law, in order to resolve the problem swiftly, with minimal loss of revenue.

Who is considered a squatter?

Squatting is when someone enters, or remains in a property, to live there, or with the intention of living there, without the permission of the owner.

If the property is residential (it is meant for housing) then squatting is a criminal act. If the property is commercial, squatting is not a criminal offence, unless they have caused property damage, this often occurs when they break into the building.

The term 'Squatter' is generally used to describe Trespassers that have gained entry without permission, often by force (breaking and entering).

Other trespassers who are not classed as squatters for procedural purposes include:
  • Tenants who have stopped paying rent
  • Tenants who have out-stayed their notice to leave

When can I evict squatters?

    Call the Police
If you have squatters in a residential property you should report the crime to the police immediately.

You cannot call the police about squatters in non-residential (commercial) property unless you have reason to believe that they have engaged in, or are engaging in, other criminal acts, such as criminal damage to the property.

Can the police evict squatters?

The Police can evict squatters of residential property. They can only evict squatters of commercial property if the squatters have committed another criminal act (usually breaking and entering).

Often however, the police will not act until the matter has been resolved in court, and in most cases, beginning court proceedings early is the quickest way of getting rid of squatters. There are two paths to evict squatters in the civil court.

How can I get rid of a squatter?

Do not attempt to evict squatters by force, or by threat of force. This is illegal and you may be prosecuted.

    Eviction Notice
Once you have reported the squatters to the police, you can issue your squatters with a notice of eviction. You should give them a reasonable amount of time to vacate the premises. However, if you wish to apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) you must do so within 28 days of discovering the squatters.

If your property is residential, you could include the following in your eviction notice: Squatting in residential buildings is illegal. It can lead to 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine or both.

    Apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO)
You can apply for an IPO if:
  • You discovered the squatters within the last 28 days
  • The squatters are trespassers, not former tenants, sub-tenants or licensees
  • You are not making a claim for damages caused by the squatters

If you discovered the squatters more than 28 days ago, or if you want to make a claim against your squatters for damages to your property, go to stage 4. (If you are evicting former tenants or licensees you will need to follow the terms and laws applicable to your tenancy agreement).

You can apply for an IPO using form N130, which you will need to submit to your local county court.

If your application is successful, the courts will send you confirmation within a few days, along with some documents that you must serve to your squatters within 48 hours. Once they have been served with the IPO they must leave within 24 hours and cannot return to the property for 12 months. If they break either of these terms they could be sent to prison for up to 6 months.

If you are owed rent or mortgage arrears for a residential property and you did not complete the claim for possession in form N130, you will need to make a separate claim for possession after the IPO is confirmed:

    Make a Claim for Possession
If you are owed rent or mortgage arrears on a residential property, you can submit your claim for possession online, if:
  • You are over 18
  • You own the property
  • The property is residential
  • The property is in England or Wales
  • You're owed rent or mortgage payments

It will cost £355.

Frequently Asked Questions
Do not attempt to evict squatters by force, or by threat of force. This is illegal and you may be prosecuted. You should report the squatters to the police. Issue them with a notice of eviction, apply for an IPO and/or claim for possession as appropriate.
Squatters Rights
According to Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 'forced evictions constitute gross violations of a range of internationally recognized human rights'

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), says that everyone has the right to respect for his home and there shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society.

As such the Court has to decide whether granting an eviction order is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim (returning the land to the legal owner). In practise it would only be in rare and exceptional cases that a court would uphold the rights of the squatter over the rights of the landlord.

Do you need help to evict squatters?

The process for settling a property dispute can be long and costly. If you don't have a legal agreement setting out your beneficial share in the property then get in contact with us and see how we can help.

We can assist with:
  • Working out your beneficial interest
  • Pre-action negotiations
  • Application to court
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Mediation
  • Court appearance

We have on hand counsel to support your claim and offer guidance along the way.

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