The landlord’s guide to evicting squatters
By David Asker on
Here is our advice on removing squatters quickly and effectively.
It pays to use a professional locksmith who has the correct tools and experience of getting into locked, barred and barricaded property. The quicker and more quietly entry is gained, the greater the element of surprise, which will help the enforcement agents clear the squatters quickly and prevent actions such as locking themselves onto the property, further barricades and protests. Your High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) will be able to recommend good locksmiths and will normally book them as part of the eviction team.
An early morning alarm call
On the subject of surprise, it is good to arrange the eviction for early in the morning while all are asleep.
Depending on the case, the police may need to attend with the enforcement team, in which case they will be involved in the pre-eviction briefings. If it is unlikely they will be required, it is good practice to alert them to the eviction and have them on stand-by just in case their support is needed on the day.
Consider asking your HCEO to conduct a risk assessment prior to the eviction to identify any potential danger and problem areas, such as the potential for a roof top protest, and identify what specialist equipment and people may be required in advance. A risk assessment is always a good idea, but particularly when the squatters are activists and protesters.
Ensure the eviction team has removed all squatters from the property. If just one person is left hiding inside, they can wait until everyone has left, then simply let the squatters back in. Specialist HCEO eviction teams know where people can hide and are skilled at finding and removing everyone from the building.
Check before signing off the writ
Once the eviction is completed, the writ of possession will need to be signed by the property owner, their agent or their solicitor to confirm that the repossession is complete and the property has been handed back to the owner. Once the writ is signed off, the eviction team are not permitted to re-enter to remove anyone else from the property without a new writ of repossession (or writ of restitution). Another good reason for checking all the squatters have been removed.
Clean up team at the ready
You will probably also need to have a clean-up team on hand. There is every chance there will be rubbish and detritus everywhere, graffiti on walls and damage to the building.
Arrange your post-eviction security in advance of the eviction, so you can get the locks changed, put up security screens and door, and possibly have security measures such as guards, CCTV and alarms, ready to be implemented as soon as the squatters leave. You don’t want them back!
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance