The 4 steps of a squatter or trespasser eviction procedure

The 4 steps of a squatter or trespasser eviction procedure

Instruction from a client it is essential to ensure that a clear squatter eviction procedure is borne in mind. Each eviction requires planning, thought and careful consideration of alternatives. A wrong initial step can cause can cause havoc and expense for a landlord later down the line.

This article aims to inform landlords by way of a quick reference guide as to the process and steps to be taken when their property is occupied. Upon finding trespassers in your property you must act with haste as there are certain time limits to comply with for different remedies.

 


Quick overview:

– Determine which route to pursue whilst considering myriad factors which may prove costly in the long run.

– Route selection and viability in light of legal and regulatory compliance to ensure the correct method is chosen.

– The eviction process itself, physical repossession, court orders and processes.

– Post eviction steps. Once a building is repossessed it is often left unsecured and at risk of re-squatting, a surprisingly common issue.


Step 1 – Factors

When deciding which route to go down there are a number of factors to consider, chiefly;

The legalitiesOne must consider what is actually possible under the law. These are quite varied; one must consider whether the trespassers are persons known to the landlord or persons unknown to the landlord. This can have a huge effect on the process as reliefs may be sought by the trespassers.

The timescalesThere are often pressing time factors involved with an eviction. It could be an interruption of business or a sale of property costing a landlord thousands of pounds.

The costsWith any squatter eviction there are associated costs which must be communicated to ensure that client expectations are met at the outset of a matter. If a common law self help remedy is used versus a full possession order with a drawn out process there are wildly differing costs. We will always ensure to communicate these to you to the best of our ability at the outset.

Fit and proper person. We have had several instructions where upon investigation we discovered that the client was not the fit and proper person to begin the process. We assisted our client to find the fit and proper person and assisted with the use and implementation of their powers of agency to ensure the instruction was carried out as smoothly as possible.

How many people are on the property. A building may contain hundreds of people or may contain one or two people. There may be vulnerable people or children involved and this needs to be dealt with accordingly.

Access. The access to the property is incredibly important. We have attended some properties that turn into fortresses once trespassers dig their heels in. This must be accommodated for at the beginning of instruction to determine the powers required under the court order for entry.

It must be noted that this list is not exhaustive and every instruction comes with its own unique challenges and factors.

Step 2 – The routes

There are three primary routes to regain possession of a squatted property:

          IPO, interim possession order

          Full possession order

          Injunction

          Common law eviction

          By agreement

I will delve into each below in turn giving a preliminary overview and some factors to be considered. If you want any further information or have any queries about any of these methods please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we can discuss it with you.

IPO, Interim possession order

There are time limits for different orders that must be complied with. For instance, if the squatters have been in the building for longer than 30 days then an interim possession order (IPO) cannot be obtained. The enforcement of the order must be additionally considered. Sometimes putting in a tactical IPO hearing can assist as this accelerates the full possession hearing. 

Full possession order

The full possession order is sometimes the only route available for a landlord. However, due to the associated time and expense it is often desirable to leave this as a method of last recourse.

Injunction

This route is similar to the route above. It is a method of last recourse and only available in very specific circumstances.

Common law eviction

The common law eviction method is incredibly risky. It is sometimes a viable route, under the common law a landlord is entitled to utilise self-help remedies in order to regain possession and control of their property.

By agreement

Sometimes squatters and trespassers may leave of their own accord. It entirely depends on the circumstances, however asking politely may well be the best recourse as this is a reasonable step.

Step 3 – The process

 At this step the procedure to remove the squatters is put in action. The court order is sought and arrangements made to carry out the eviction. Barristers and solicitors may be instructed to attend your hearing and thereafter the County court or High court enforcement companies enlisted to attend your property.

 

On the eviction day, after all necessary court orders are obtained and granted in your favour, notices are served the property will be reclaimed. Upon re -entry to the property our agents will secure your building and protect your property from further damage.

Step 4 – Post completion steps

Once physical possession has been obtained it is necessary to secure the property. Our agents can be fully equipped to make emergency repairs to your property to ensure its security. An increasing concern is that the property is reclaimed only to be re-squatted a day or so later. At this point the whole procedure has to begin again. It is therefore prudent to protect your property. If the building is a vacant commercial building we often recommend our specialists assess your building for weak points for entry. Windows can be metaled over, doors can be upgraded to security doors and holes can be patched to prevent entry.

Many of our clients wish to have a security detail occupy the building. A property that is occupied prevents squatters from claiming a right of occupation. We are additionally able to provide guard dogs on site, both on the day of eviction and after the eviction has occurred to prevent any further squatting from trespassers.

If you have any queries about this process please do not hesitate to contact us and we can discuss this with you.