Squatting is occupying someone else’s property without their permission. It is not usually a criminal offence so in most cases the police are not prepared to get involved. If the squatters refuse to leave the owner will generally have to commence civil proceedings in the Courts to remove the squatters.
There is a special Court procedure in place for dealing with squatters.
The usual process is to obtain a Court order to evict the squatters which is then enforced by Court officers. Squatters can be removed quite easily and we can advise on the most effective solutions. However, it is important that the owner acts quickly as otherwise the problem can escalate and can quickly mushroom into a major headache.
Often the squatter initially had the owner’s permission to occupy the property but then remained in the property without permission, leading to a property dispute eg where an employer allows an employee to occupy staff accommodation eg a caretaker’s flat. In those cases the process for removing the occupier is the same as if the squatter had initially gone in to occupation without permission, but there are some additional restrictions in place where the property is residential.
In some cases the squatter can acquire ownership of the property, under what is known as “squatters’ rights” provided that they have occupied the property for at least 12 years without the true owner’s permission. The law changed in 2003 when the old 12-year rule was abolished if the land was registered at HM Land Registry. In that case squatters can still acquire squatters’ rights but there is a “warning off” procedure in place and the true owner is in a much stronger position. The old rule still applies to unregistered land (ie where a title is not registered).
We have extensive experience and expertise in dealing with squatters claims and have the ability and expertise to move quickly and to achieve a quick, decisive result.
We offer the full range of funding options (other than government funding) to include fixed fees, conditional fee arrangements, after the event insurance and third party funding. We also always provide cost estimates as soon as reasonably practicable and remain within those estimates or, where (for good reason) not possible, agree a revised estimate before the previous one is exceeded. This, together with our regular billing policy and transparency on costs, means you retain a degree of control and certainly over your legal spend.