How do I get rid of squatters in my house?
Squatters taking residence in your home or on your property is a nuisance for many and is something homeowners want to avoid.
The current UK law states that anyone occupying a property continuously for 10 years, and has acted as the property owner for that time, can apply for registered ownership of that home. This figure jumps to 12 years if the property is not registered with HM Land Registry.
Whilst there are consequences for people squatting on your land, including fines and imprisonment, squatters do have certain rights that need to be followed before and during removal. Squatters can cause damage to your property and possessions if they have forced entry and could leave your home exposed to other types of criminal activity, such as burglary. If you are stuck with squatters refusing to leave your property, there are several ways to remove them without legal action being taken against you.
Contacting the police
The police are highly-trained professionals with plenty of experience. Given that squatting is a criminal offence on a residential property, you can ask them for their assistance. Unfortunately, the UK police force is often reluctant to get involved with squatter removal and tend to have a slow response time if they do.
Once involved, police officers must give squatters a chance to leave voluntarily before they remove them with force. If squatters are located on commercial property it is not classified as a criminal offence and therefore the police cannot legally remove them.
Using enforcement teams
At County ERT, our enforcement teams are well versed in squatter removal and can help you with your situation. Enforcement teams can remove squatters from both residential and business properties, and we understand how detrimental squatters can be to your home or company.
Enforcement Removal Teams will lawfully remove squatters from your land, if they are illegally occupying that area. Our team of certified professionals will remove these individuals from your property under Common Law without the need for a court order. County ERT also offers a post-eviction service, helping you secure your property or site to prevent future access to any squatters. This could include CCTV, security dogs, security guards or a perimeter fence.
Taking the situation to court
By taking it to court, you can get rid of squatters in your house by applying for an IPO (or Interim Possession Order) and quickly removing squatters from the property. An IPO can be sent to your local county court, taking only a few days for confirmation. The court will also provide you with documents you must give to the squatters, within 48 hours of receiving them. The quicker squatter removal process can only take place if you have just been made aware of a squatter in your property, and if you can remember the last time you visited that house. The courts will only give you 28 days to act on this knowledge.
Solicitors provide excellent legal advice when it comes to squatter removal, and it may be worth speaking to one if you need help. Do keep in mind that taking the situation to court and involving a solicitor will cost you an average of £5000, not including any potential damage to the property or loss in rent.