How to get rid of travellers from your land
The unauthorised occupation of your land by travellers can cause a lot of damage, both financially and physically to your property.
It can also be a stressful time for landowners too, not knowing how or when they may be able to get back what is rightfully theirs. If you find yourself in this position, we’ve put together this guide to show you how to remove travellers from your land in a lawful way.
Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as just calling the police. Trespassing is considered a civil matter and not a criminal offence, so they can’t immediately carry out the eviction for you. The police can, however, keep an eye on the travellers to see if any criminal activity takes place.
If travellers have settled on your land, you have a few options available to pursue:
Using Common Law To Remove Travellers
Common Law provides private landlords with a range of choices when it comes to removing trespassers from private land. It states that landowners have the right to remove travellers from their land using ‘reasonable force’ if required. However, this doesn’t mean that you can try and chase them off forcibly yourself. You’ll need the assistance of Certified Enforcement officers (such as COUNTY ERT), involved in the process to ensure it is carried out in a lawful manner.
After enlisting the help of an enforcement officer, they will serve the travellers with a notice period (usually 24 hours) to leave your land. In most cases, this is enough to make the travellers move on. In the rare case that it doesn’t, reasonable force (no more than this) can then be applied to evict the travellers. After this, the enforcement officer will typically gather photo evidence of any damage caused, and ensure that the land is secure to prevent re-entry.
Whilst the police will be reluctant to physically assist with the eviction process, the enforcement officers will typically request a police presence to observe. This helps to reduce tensions and ensures there are no breaches of the peace.
Police will usually only get directly involved in the following scenarios:
- If the travellers have caused damage to either the land or to property that sits on the land
- If any threatening, abusive or insulting language or behaviour is expressed towards the occupier, family member or an employee or agent
- If six or more vehicles are present on the land
Writ of Possession To Remove Travellers
Another option available to landowners and local authorities is a A Writ of Possession. This is where a writ is issued against ‘persons unknown’ and is then enforced by a High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO).
If the travellers refuse to leave on the request of the landowner, they can go to the court for an order of possession under Part 55 Civil Procedure Rules. Once the hearing has issued the writ, it must be served either directly to the travellers or posted in a prominent position.
If the land is not vacated, then the judge will issue the possession order with a date of future hearing. Once the eviction order is issued, the HCEO can set about regaining possession of the land.
There are pros and cons to this method of traveller eviction:
One downside of taking the Writ of Possession option is that it will take much longer than simply using common law (as described above). It will also be more expensive, and that’s before you factor in any additional damage that may occur due to the trespassers being on your land for a longer period of time.
The advantage of using Writs of Possession is that once the trespassers break this order, they are committing a criminal offence. Consequently, the police can get involved with the threat of jail time hanging over those who remain.
County ERT provide specialist Traveller Eviction services to support the lawful removal of unauthorised individuals or groups. We have professionally qualified teams across the country that are able to use a variety of techniques in order to manage and remove travellers respectfully. If you want to get rid of travellers from your land swiftly and in a lawful manner, get in touch today.