Trespassers, squatters and protesters can be a significant and costly problem for landlords, landowners and local authorities.
The reasons for the occupation may include a protest, often against infrastructure projects, or a group of people looking for somewhere to live. A squat may also attract activists who come and support the squatters to resist or prevent removal.
Trespassers may do some, or even all, of the following to your site:
- Damage to buildings – we have seen walls and ceilings pulled down, roof tiles ripped off
- Damage to land – such as tunnelling, blockades, encampments
- Leave behind an enormous amount of detritus
- Call in extra support from other groups, as has happened on many high-profile occupations
- Generate negative publicity for your organisation and project
Our job is not done until all the squatters have been removed and the property returned to its rightful owner – we have a 100% success rate of evicting trespassers.
Where possible, prevention is better than cure and The Sheriffs Office can advise on security measures for empty properties.
Our partners at the National Eviction Team
The National Eviction Team is part of the same group of companies as The Sheriffs Office. They are protester, squatter and traveller removal experts and we work together to undertake specialist evictions.
We can evict on behalf of government bodies, local authorities, and utilities companies as well as lawyers acting on their behalf where occupiers remain after there has been a compulsory purchase order issued.Find out more about the National Eviction Team
What can you do?
If you need to remove trespassers from your property or land, you (or your solicitor or agent) can apply for a court order for possession under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which is then transferred to the High Court for enforcement by The Sheriffs Office under a writ of possession.
You do not need to know the names of the squatters, as the order can be made against "persons unknown".
There is a court fee for the transfer and we will manage the process on your behalf for no fee.
If it is only land that is occupied, you also have the option of instructing The Sheriffs Office to remove them under Common Law using our team of certificated enforcement agents without a court order. The land must be identified on a Land Registry Map or Local Authority Plan.
Risk assessment and specialist access
We always recommend that a risk assessment be carried out before taking action, even more so in the case of protesters, as it is highly likely that specialist equipment will be needed to remove them where they have locked themselves onto structures or cemented themselves in, as well as professional specialist teams, comprising:
- Ground enforcement team
- Lock on removal team
- Evidence gathering team
- Climbing team
- Tunnelling team
We will also identify what level of Police support will be required and liaise with the local Police force.
Securing the site
Once the trespassers have been removed, it is essential to thoroughly secure the site to prevent future occupation and /or disruption. This may include a perimeter wall or fence, security guards, possibly with dogs, CCTV and remote monitoring.
Our expert Security team will advise our clients on the best way to secure their site to prevent reoccupation. Our Security team is also available to advise on measures you should take to prevent occupation in the first instance.