How to Evict a Squatter UK

How to Evict a Squatter UK

How to Evict a Squatter

When owning a property you may first become aware of a squatter through a neighbour or the police notifying you of a light or party in your empty vacant property.

Your first instinct may be to contact a solicitor or search for an answer online. One call to CS Bailiffs can provide you with guidance, advice or a solution to your problem. We specialise in standard possession claims or those by way of injunction in order to put the property back in your hands where it belongs.

The first step of evicting a squatter

Once a squatter is discovered the owner, or his agent, must by law ask the person occupying the property to leave. When notifying the squatters, a short statement should be drafted to be delivered to the court and kept on record for a later date. The civil procedure rules state that the person claiming possession must provide undertakings to settle any financial problems that may arise if they are not the fit and proper person for possession of the property. This in essence means that if the person beginning the procedure isn’t the owner or persons allowed to enjoy the property, then the claim might fail.

Here is a list of statutory requirements to consider before an application for possession is made:

A copy of the land registry documents.

A statement made by or on behalf of the landlord.

An application to the county court of the occupied property’s jurisdiction. 

Undertakings confirming that you are the owner of the property. 

Court’s fee.

A statement briefly describing your reasoning for wanting your property returned to you.

These points should be considered by a qualified legal professional instructed on your behalf. We instruct and use a specialist solicitor in order to ensure that there are no procedural issues. Clients are often unaware that the slightest deviation or procedural error from those laid down can stop a successful claim in its tracks.

This is the first step of how to evict a squatter claiming a right of occupation to your property. 

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

You must apply to the courts for an interim possession order (IPO) within 28 days of when you reasonably should have known about the presence of the squatters. This of course can lead to timing difficulties and means that time really is of the essence and can limit your options regarding how to evict a squatter residing in your property. We are on hand for these emergencies and typically are able to visit the property within 12 hours of instruction, often even sooner. This ensures for a smooth and expedient process.

The courts will set a hearing date and return your documents to you or your agent to hand deliver to the address in question to give 5 clear days’ notice of the hearing, or two days in the case of a commercial property. Please note that these must be clear days. The prepared court bundles must be served in accordance with the civil procedure rules. Two of these bundles must be served, one must be affixed to the door, visible from the outside and the other must be served through the letter box. If this is not possible, then it must be staked by the door, clearly displayed in a transparent sleeve addressed to the occupiers. It is worth stressing that any failure to follow this procedure correctly can result in a court throwing the case out.

Service of the documents can be a problem if those inside the property decide to prevent you from serving these required documents in accordance with the CPR. If this occurs it can result in wasted court fees and legal costs, this is why it is essential to use an experienced process server to carry out the service of documents. Once the documents have been served, the certificate of service must be returned to the issuing court and then the procedural formalities are met to proceed with the hearing.

THE HEARING:

Provided that all the conditions of the IPO have been met, the judge, by law, has no discretionary power and must extend to the claimant the courts protection. This allows the landlord or his agent to regain control of the property but the claimant must not let, dispose of or alter the property until a full possession hearing has taken place, usually within the next 7 working days or the next available hearing from the court.

The conditions of an IPO are as follows:
– Only available to claimants within 28 days of reasonably knowing about the squatters.
– Cannot be used to evict a tenant or someone granted permission to occupy the property (Licence/lease/expired tenancy).
– Claimants must have a right to possess the property.
– Must not be used if you are also claiming for damages caused by a squatter.
– An order can only be granted for the recovery of property, not land. It must have a structure that sits on footings raised from beneath ground level.

(Property does not include caravans, as any caravan that has been subject to rent is protected from unlawful eviction under the Caravan Act. This would require a county court possession order to be sought instead).

AFTER THE HEARING

Once the court grants an IPO it must be served within the time as directed by the court. It can be normal for the squatters to gather outside of the property which can be intimidating due to the potential mass numbers of squatter’s present. This can lead to difficulty when serving the two sealed copies of the order and summons granted by the court which must include the date of the final possession hearing and the address of the County Court in which the hearing is due to take place. For the documents to be effectively served they need to be delivered through the letterbox and affixed to the property in the same manner described above. It is therefore prudent at this of point the process of how to evict a squatter to instead ask an experienced process server to carry this out on your behalf.

After 24 hours have passed since the service of the IPO it is a criminal offence for the squatters to remain on the property or post code.

ENFORCEMENT

The penultimate step in how to evict a squatter is the enforcement of the order. On the day of the eviction as stipulated by the IPO the police will usually attend. Once the police arrive and the order is explained to them, it should be as simple as leave the property or be subject to arrest and a criminal record. However, the police are not too keen to assist in what they believe to be a civil matter of trespass, but with careful negotiation we always remove the occupants. We always try to ensure that we have police assistance but this isn’t always possible. We therefore act as your agent to enforce the order and remove those on the property.

CONCLUSION

Many landlords despair at the lack of help and information available to assist them in getting back something, which as far as they are concerned, is already theirs. The process for how to evict a squatter can be a difficult one.

The trespasser understands that they are protected by the law, as they can lawfully enter an empty commercial property no matter where it is located or its state of repair. Also, they know that any attempt by the landlord to gain entry or remove the squatters without an IPO or possession order will result in his/her arrest. A squatter wants to occupy your property for as long as possible, so will therefore hope you consult with your solicitor or force entry to the property, as this can considerably extend their stay and gain large financial rewards. 

However, a call to one of our specialist possession experts at CS Bailiffs will get you to your goal of reclaiming your property. You will be kept informed throughout the process  by your dedicated CS Bailiffs operative, delivering guaranteed results in the quickest and most cost-effective way.

HOW WE AT CS BAILIFFS DEAL WITH THE SITUATION:

CS Bailiffs will employ the IPO remedy for securing your property, this will normally include service of notice the next day.

Furthermore, we will apply in the High Court for an order to abridge time. This will remove the statutory service times, generally leading to an on the day service of notice, effective forthwith. This utilises the same evidentiary documents as the IPO but instead is granted in the High Court by a Master, which cannot be overturned by courts with a lower right of audience. This method is usually cost prohibitive for many claimants but would deal with the query, how to evict a squatter expediently.

This article only briefly touches upon the issue of evicting a squatter/the process of how to evict a squatter. If you would like more information you can visit our site or contact us.

Or if you want to inquire about the correct procedure and any issues that could arise from attempting any self-help remedies, you can contact CS Bailiffs for an up to date account of the law before you act. It pays to proceed safe in the knowledge you are not subject to arrest and prosecution. Ignorance is no excuse in law and compromising the landlord is never an option at CS Bailiffs.

Queries regarding how to evict a squatter

If you have any questions or queries about the above article or about your own situation please don’t hesitate to contact us.

DISCLAIMER

We are not solicitors; we are a bailiffs company who specialise exclusively in reclaiming property in the fastest and most financially beneficial way on behalf of our clients.

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