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Evicting Squatters

Legally reviewed by:
Wyn Legal team

Squatting is an act of someone deliberately entering property or land which they do not own and without permission from the legal owner with the intention of living there.

Where an individual is originally given permission to enter a property but later does not leave, this will generally not be considered squatting.

Squatting in residential properties is illegal and can result in a £5,000 fine and/or 6 months in prison.

Squatting in commercial buildings is generally not considered a crime but there may be other crimes committed such as criminal damage (when entering property) or failing to leave a property following a court order.

If a squatter has been occupying a property for 10 years (if the property is registered) or 12 years (if the property is unregistered), they can eventually become the registered owner. However, they will need to demonstrate that they have acted as the owners of the property and that they did not have the owner’s permission.

If squatters apply for adverse possession, the Land Registry will inform the existing owner of the property who will have 65 days to object. A valid objection will result in the squatter not becoming the legal owners of the property, however, the existing owner will need to take action to remove the squatters and reclaim the property.

In removing a squatter, it is essential that you follow the law in doing so. 

You should call the police where:

  1. The property is a residential property.
  2. The property is a commercial property and there is evidence of criminal damage to gain entry into the property.

In removing a squatter, it is essential that you follow the law in doing so. 

You should call the police where:

  1. The property is a residential property.
  2. The property is a commercial property and there is evidence of criminal damage to gain entry into the property.

In order to legally remove squatters, property owners must apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO). An overview of applying for the IPO is set out below:

  1. Within 28 days of discovering the property is being squatted in. You can apply for one and submit it online using the Form N5 and  Form N130. When completing your application for an IPO, it is essential you move with speed and that you can provide as much evidence as possible in relation to the squatters occupying the property by way of a witness statement.

  2. Once the court have received the IPO application, a date will be fixed for a hearing as soon as practicable but not less than three days after the date of the issuing of the application.

  3. Within 24 hours of the issue of the application by the court, the claimant must serve on the defendant squatters the N5 claim form, N130 application notice and importantly, the N133 Defendant’s witness statement to oppose the making of an IPO. These documents must be given to the squatters by attaching copies of the documents to the main door or some other part of the land so that they are clearly visible and if practicable, inserting copies of those documents in a sealed transparent envelope addressed to the occupiers through the letterbox. A certificate of service must be completed once this step has been completed by completing the N215 form.

  4. The court will set a date for the hearing of the IPO application and consider whether to make an IPO.

  5. Where the court makes an IPO it will (among other things) require the defendant squatters to do the following:
    1. Vacate the property within 24 hours of the service of the order. 
    2. Stop the defendant returning to the property without the owner’s permission within one year of the IPO.
    3. Warns the defendant that if they fail to comply with this, they are committing a criminal offence and may be arrested and upon conviction could be sent to prison or fined (or both).

  6. When the court makes an IPO, they will also fix a date for the claim for possession of the property. Therefore, there will then be a follow up possession hearing that the parties will need to attend.

At Wyn Legal, we can assist you in working rapidly and robustly in applying to remove squatters from a property. We can assist you in:

  1. Assessing the merits of obtaining an IPO.
  2. Applying an IPO, including drafting the various court forms and witness statements.
  3. We can assist you with lawful service of the forms on the squatters.
  4. We will attend a court hearing for the purposes of fighting your corner.
Evict A Tenant Chigwell, UK