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Squatter Evictions

If there are restrictions about removing a squatter


If there are restrictions about removing a squatter

Although ‘squatter’s rights’ as such don’t exist, the process for someone who is not the legal owner of a property to take ownership after living in it for a certain amount of time is called adverse possession. The amount of time a squatter needs to stay in a property before they can get ownership depends on whether the land is registered or unregistered.

If the land is unregistered, a squatter would generally need to occupy it for 12 years to get ownership. If the land is registered and a squatter lives there for 10 years, they can apply for registration. The current registered owner will be able to object and in most circumstances will be able to stop squatters from taking ownership.

Remember that a tenant who refuses to leave your property on the expiry of a Section 21 Notice is not a squatter. Illegally evicting or harassing a tenant is a crime under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Under the Housing Act 1988, a landlord who has granted an assured shorthold tenancy has a legal right to get their property back upon expiry of a validly prepared and served Section 21 Notice.

The law relating to the correct expiry date and the use of the correct Section 21 Notice is complex and sometimes very confusing for landlords. According to the London Association of District Judges, using incorrect dates on such notices is the principal reason that seven out of 10 court actions are thrown out of court.

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