Having trespassers occupying your property can be very frustrating and worrying. It is also a huge inconvenience to many landlords.
It is often a misplaced notion that evicting trespassers can be a cumbersome process.
The key is to act promptly and seek immediate legal advice as soon as possible.
What Is A Trespasser?
A trespasser is a person who has entered a property without obtaining the permission of the owner.
Usually, a trespasser will have illegally entered your property without your knowledge.
However, in some cases they may have deliberately been placed in your property by someone entrusted to manage your property, such as an unscrupulous estate agent.
It is also common for a trespasser to be a vulnerable person, so the matter must be dealt with sensitively and care must be taken not to act unreasonably.
Step-by-Step: How To Remove Trespassers
The first step is to write to the trespasser to ascertain whether they would be prepared to voluntarily leave the property.
At this stage, it may be a good option for the owner to offer an incentive to the trespasser to leave, such as assistance with reasonable moving costs.
It is advisable to make the trespasser aware of any organisations that may be able to assist, such as the local authority’s housing department or homeless charities such as Shelter.
Notice To Quit & Possession Orders
If the trespasser refuses to leave the property voluntarily, then the next stage is to serve the trespasser with a formal Notice to Quit, usually giving them one month’s notice to vacate the property.
If the trespasser continues to occupy the property after the expiry of the notice period, then it will be necessary to issue a claim for a Possession Order under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
Possession Order claims are usually dealt with in the County Court and the Court fee for issuing the claim is currently £355.
A Claim Form together with Particulars of Claim will need to be prepared setting out the legal basis for the claim.
It will also be necessary to prepare a witness statement on behalf of the owner/landlord explaining how the trespasser came to occupy the property without consent and the steps already taken to deal with the problem.
Serving The Trespasser(s)
Once the above documents are prepared, they will need to be sent to the Court so that the Court can issue the claim.
The documents must then be served on the trespasser.
The trespasser will have 14 days in which to respond to the claim and file any defence, although in most cases a defence is not usually filed.
The Court will fix a date for the hearing when it issues the claim.
Claims for possession against trespassers take priority over other possession claims and are usually fast-tracked.
The hearing usually takes place between 28 days and 8 weeks after the claim is issued.
At the hearing, the Court will determine if the occupation by the trespasser is unlawful and if so, it will grant the Possession Order which will specify the date by when the trespasser must deliver up the property to the owner/landlord.
A trespasser will usually be ordered to leave the property within 7 to 14 days, although in some urgent cases the order may require delivery up of the property forthwith.
The Possession Order must then be served on the trespasser.
In most cases, service of the Possession Order should be enough to make the trespasser leave the property out of their own free will without the need to formally evict them.
Warrant Of Possession
If the trespasser refuses to leave the property by the date given in the Possession Order, then it will be necessary to formally enforce the Possession Order by applying to the Court for a Warrant of Possession.
The Court fee for issuing a Warrant of Possession is currently £130.
When the Court issues a Warrant of Possession, it will send the trespasser an Eviction Notice specifying the date they must leave the property.
A Court Bailiff can evict the trespasser if they do not leave by this date. You can apply for a Warrant of Possession up to 6 years after a Possession Order is made.
Legal Help With Evicting Trespassers
At Monan Gozzett, we have extensive experience of successfully obtaining Possession orders for landlords who wish to evict trespassers.
We understand that dealing with trespassers can often be stressful and requires careful handling.
Our legal team can assist landlords and manage the eviction process on their behalf.
If you require any further information, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with Samuel Manok-Sanoian (Head of Commercial Litigation).