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How can I evict squatters?
The Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 created a new arrestable offence of ‘squatting in a residential property'. This makes squatting punishable by up to 51 weeks in prison or a fine of up to £5,000.
Despite some concerns about the practicality of the new law, police forces by and large do seem to be taking action to evict squatters when asked to do so, so the landlord’s first action should be to contact the police. However, there are some circumstances in which the police may still deem the problem to be a civil matter and take no action.
In these circumstances, it’s still possible to removes squatters, provided the landlord or property owner acts quickly. Access Legal can obtain a court order to evict the squatters which is then enforced by court officers. An Interim Possession Order (IPO) can be used if the squatters have been in the property 28 days or less from the date the proceedings are issued. If the squatters have been present for more than 28 days, there is an alternative that can be pursued through the courts that takes slightly longer.
The IPO process can progress quickly to the service of a Final Possession Order. Once this is made, the squatters cannot return to the property within 12 months, otherwise they would be committing an arrestable criminal offence that will be pursued irrespective of the circumstances.
Most landlords find that once the IPO is served, squatters leave almost immediately.