A landlord’s worst nightmare – visiting your property and finding it unlawfully occupied by squatters. What can you do to avoid this happening?
- If your property is currently unoccupied, try and give the appearance that someone is living there. Install a timer for light switches and leave curtains and blinds at the windows
- Keep property securely locked
- Have adequate security both when let and when vacant – landlords can be held responsible for a tenant’s losses if properties are not secure
- Visit regularly to premises and vacant land
- Barricade or fence off areas of vacant land
- Contact your insurers if your property is vacant; this may attract higher insurance premiums.
Property Dispute Solicitor Michelle Hayter says “Should you find your property has been illegally entered by squatters contact the police immediately. They may be able to act without reference to the courts. Be present when the police attend as you can advise on the situation and you want to avoid any further damage to your property. If the police are unable to assist start legal proceedings for an Interim Possession Order immediately. You should be able to remove squatters legally within two weeks, providing you use the correct process.”
Do not use force to remove trespassers – you may find yourself accused of a criminal act under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Peaceable entry is legal. Squatters must be given five days notice to leave and notice must be served on them personally – failing that it may be fixed to the door of the property.
If you are having problems of this nature or would like advice on a landlord’s duties we offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone. Please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of the team will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.