What Do Squatters Rights Mean?

squatters rights
What Do Squatters Rights Mean?

If someone is living on a property without the owner’s consent, they are considered a squatter and may be protected by “Squatters’ Rights.” Whether you are a squatter or you own property where squatting has been discovered, various factors can determine who has rights over the property.

What are “squatters’ rights”?

The core aspect of “squatters’ rights” is the ability for a squatter to apply for ownership of a property after residing there for over 10 years, and in certain limited circumstances, up to 60 years. They can make an application to the land registry, which then notifies the property owner. The property owner can either approve or challenge the request. If no objection is raised, the squatter can become the new owner of the property.

“Squatters’ Rights” protect squatters from unlawful eviction and from being removed from the property through force or threats of force. Squatters can also resist forced entry by anyone without legal authority. It’s important to note that legal actions against groups of squatters are becoming more common, so it’s crucial to understand your responsibilities early on.

Is it legal to remove a squatter from my property?

If you need to remove a squatter from your property, you can apply for a possession order, which requires a trespasser to vacate the property and allows for bailiffs to be instructed to carry out the eviction. It’s important not to attempt to remove the squatters yourself, hire someone to remove them, or enter the building where they are residing, as this could lead to a claim for unlawful eviction, which carries criminal penalties.

If the squatter originally entered the property with your permission (e.g., as a tenant) but now refuses to leave or has stopped paying rent, you must serve them notice and, in most cases, seek a court order to evict them.

How do “squatters’ rights” apply to commercial property?

If someone is squatting in a commercial building or on a plot of land, you have broader potential remedies available. For trespassers on commercial property, you may be able to apply for an interim possession order. If granted, this order requires the squatters to vacate within 24 hours and imposes criminal sanctions for non-compliance. It’s crucial to act quickly in such cases, as there is a strict 28-day time limit to bring a claim, and the court may determine the starting point of this period based on when you should have been aware of the trespassers.

Although squatters on commercial property cannot be arrested for trespassing alone, they can be reported if they have committed other offences, such as incorrectly disposing of litter on the site, using gas or electricity without permission, damaging the property, or stealing from the property.

Contact our experts

Our property dispute solicitors have extensive experience in handling trespass claims, including those involving unknown persons, and are ready to assist you with any legal issues concerning your property or claims you may have.

To speak with one of our team members, please call us at 01625 460281 or fill out our contact form, and one of our colleagues will reach out to you at the earliest convenience.

Avatar of DLS Solicitors by DLS Solicitors
25th April 2024
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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