The term “squatters’ rights” is one often heard, but what rights do landlords have when it comes to evicting squatters?
What is squatting?
Legally, squatting is defined as entering a property without prior permission, with the intention of living there. It may also be referred to as “adverse possession”.
What does the law say?
Squatting is illegal in residential property. A campaign has resulted in squatting becoming recognised as a criminal activity, and it can lead to a fine of up to £5,000 – or even imprisonment.
When is it not squatting?
Permission to enter
If someone originally took residence in the property with the permission of the landlord, then they are not classed as a squatter. In reality, this means that it’s hard to deal with a tenant who has fallen behind on the rent, as they are not occupying the place illegally.
It is also legal to squat in non-residential property, although it is illegal to use utilities like power and water without permission.
What about “squatters rights”?
If one or a series of squatters has resided in a property for 10 years or more, they might be able to take over legal ownership.
The key when dealing with squatters is to act as quickly as possible. You can call the police and request that they remove the person(s) responsible. Otherwise, you can go to court, which may be costly but quick – it can all be sewn up in a matter of weeks that way. Seek urgent legal advice if the police do not succeed in evicting your uninvited tenants.