SQUATTERS - A landlords nightmare!
Thankfully, I’ve not experienced squatters as yet. It’s only really likely if the property has remained empty for a while or has been abandoned. Luckily the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 made the activity a criminal offence.
If your property is secure and somebody breaks into it and takes up occupation, then this is not squatting, but trespass. The police have powers to remove trespassers immediately as long as you act quickly. The vital thing is that, if you do act; evidence of forced entry is required.
This really means that if you have a property that is going to be vacant for a while, you should ensure regular inspections. If this is difficult, consider installing some surveillance equipment. Whilst this may seem “over the top”, the relative cheapness of electronic devices now means that quite sophisticated equipment can be bought very cheaply from DIY stores and than installed by a competent amateur. If this prevents squatting it could end up being a worthwhile investment.
Ok, the nightmare scenario happens and you have squatters?
Squatting exists if the occupier has no ownership documents, no lease or tenancy agreement, no record of having paid rent to a landlord, or no other evidence of occupancy rights. Even so, squatters do have rights. They cannot be evicted without a court possession order.
The quickest procedure for gaining a possession order is to apply for an interim possession order. This order is pending a judge’s decision to grant a full possession order and if granted requires squatters to leave within 24 hours and then not return within 12 months. The important aspect is that a claim for possession is made within 28 days of the owner becoming aware of the existence of squatters. If this isn’t done then the judge will take into consideration whether you, as owner or landlord, should have known about the occupation sooner than you did.
In support of the interim possession order you are invited by the court to undertake that:
Ultimately, following the service of the order if the squatters refuse to leave, they are committing a criminal offence and risk being arrested by the police or being evicted by a Court Bailiff. They may also be subject to a fine or imprisonment or both.
FORMS FOR LETTING PROPERTY
FINANCE AND TAX ON RENTAL PROPERTY
RENTAL PROPERTY REGULATIONS
INVESTING IN BTL PROPERTY
WHAT TO BUY
BUYING OFF PLAN
KNOWING THE RISKS
MANAGING YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY
NON - PAYMENT OF RENT
GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK
THE TENANT WONT MOVE OUT
THE TENANT DOES A BUNK
RAISING THE RENT
REDUCING THE RENT
REPAYING THE TENANCY DEPOSIT
DAMP, MOULD AND CONDENSATION
LETTING RENTAL PROPERTY
LEGISLATION ON LETTING PROPERTY
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
HOUSING ACT APPEAL DISPUTES
THE LANDS TRIBUNAL
RIGHTS OF LIGHT APPLICATION
APPEALS FROM LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS (LVT's)
POSSESSION - SECTION 8 NOTICE
POSSESSION - SECTION 21 NOTICE
SECTION 21 TIMETABLE AND PROCESS
GROUNDS FOR POSSESSION
HARASSMENT BY LANDLORDS
RENT DISPUTES BETWEEN LANDLORD & TENANT
FAIR RENT (RAC)
MARKET RENT UNDER AST
LEASEHOLD VALUATION TRIBUNALS
MODIFICATION OF RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS