Case study: Squatters and Trespassers

By Kate Andrews

The occupation of vacant property by squatters is a situation no owner wants to face. An empty premises of any nature, be it industrial warehouses, residential properties or an open area such as a car park, faces the threat that trespassers will enter the property and refuse to leave. This puts the property in danger of extensive damage and a host of other unpleasant risks for the owner.

Squatters  should be managed in as quick and efficient a way as possible, always with a view to the owners  commercial objective and costs.  Below is a case study of a typical squatters matter.

The Issue

We were approached by a client who owned warehouse premises, including a large yard/car park, in the North West of England, which was vacant as it was due to be redeveloped. The premises became occupied overnight by a number of trespassers with vehicles and caravans.

Our client wanted advice as to how they could legally remove them in the quickest way as the number of trespassers was increasing, and it appeared that they had broken into one of the warehouse buildings,  potentially causing damage to the property.

What we did

Hamlins advised our clients to call the police and we arranged for bailiffs to attend the site to serve a [Common Law Eviction Notice]. At the same time we made an urgent application to the Court for a Final Possession Order as well as an Interim Possession  Order (“IPO”).

The application was issued the same day and a hearing listed for 3 days’ time. In this case, we were successfully able to persuade the Court to abridge the time for service of the application so that a hearing could take place before the weekend, in order to try and limit the amount of damage the trespassers could do to our client’s property.

Once the application was sealed by the Court, on the same day we instructed bailiffs to attend the site and serve copies of the Application and Notice of Hearing on the trespassers, ensuring the bailiffs attached copies to the gates and fences, as required.

What happened next?

We  attended the hearing that had been listed and successfully obtained an IPO, which required the trespassers to leave the site immediately. Again, bailiffs were instructed the same day to attend the site, serve copies of the IPO on the trespassers and assist, so far as they were able, with ensuring the trespassers left the site immediately.

The trespassers left that day and we advised the client to ensure security was employed to guard against them returning.

Conclusion of the matter

As an IPO is only an interim remedy, it can only be made as ancillary to a general possession claim.

We therefore attended the hearing for the Final Possession Order on behalf of our client and successfully obtained a Final Possession Order, which our client would be able to use to enforce if the same trespassers returned.

Need advice on squatters?

If you are facing a similar issue, or need general advice on squatters or trespassers, contact our Real Estate Disputes team.

Case study: Squatters and Trespassers

Meet the team