However, you also have the option of obtaining a county court judgment and then a writ of possession to remove them. Whilst the police have a duty to prevent a breach of the peace, they may be more supportive of the land owner’s efforts to remove trespassers if he has a court writ.

When you have people illegally occupying your land, whether with tents, caravans or makeshift shelters, the land owner has the right to remove them by common law. We would definitely advise that you use certificated bailiffs to assist you in this. Please read this article to find out more about this option.

Writ of Possession

The writ of possession is a High Court writ and is enforced by High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEOs). It can be made against “persons unknown” if you have not been able to identify all the trespassers by name.

The writ of possession is to be executed immediately. In practice this means as soon as possible. Whilst there is no requirement for the HCEO to warn the trespassers of impending eviction, it is good practice to do so, as this will enable him to undertake a health and safety risk assessment and determine whether any special equipment or support is required. At his point he may also determine whether it would be wise to notify the police, so that they can be on standby if there is a breach of the peace during the actual eviction.

Combining the writ of possession with a writ of control

If the landlord had originally given permission for occupation of the land in exchange for payment of rent, should the occupants default on the rent, the land owner may obtain a second judgment for the outstanding rent and then combine the writ of possession with a writ of control (formerly known as a writ of fieri facias or fi-fa), allowing the HCEO to seize assets to sell to recover the outstanding rent at the same time as the eviction.

In this case, the judgment must identify the individuals by name; it cannot be left as “persons unknown”.

The HCEO may seize goods and chattels, including cars and caravans, as long as the caravan can be moved. This includes caravans that have been linked up to an electricity supply.

Evicting Squatters

Whilst the above article covers the eviction of trespassers who may be squatters, you can read more in this article about evicting squatters.

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