What to do about squatters?

Posted: 4th Jun 2014

Dealing with squatters can be stressful, traumatic and expensive.

Here are a few tips that you may find useful:

  1. firstly, be sure that you understand that the squatters concerned are really squatters. For example, note that tenants who are behind with the rent or with whom you are currently engaged in eviction proceedings are not, under the law, categorised as squatters;
  2. it is an important that you stay calm. You must not, under any circumstances, try to use force or threats of force to evict squatters that have occupied your property. It might be extremely wise to avoid any form of face-to-face confrontation. If you are communicating with people on your property that you believe should not be there, do so in the presence of the police;
  3. if your property is classified as residential and fit for occupation, you should report the squatting immediately to the police. Do not delay as this might be construed as tacit agreement for the squatters concerned to stay on your property;
  4. there is a significant difference between the legal position relating to squatters in residential property and those occupying non-residential property. In the case of the former, their activity is a criminal offence. In the case of the latter, you may need to apply to a court for a possession order. Note that the fact that a property is unoccupied does not make it a non-residential property;
  5. it is obviously preferable to avoid squatters getting into a property than to try and get them out of one. Therefore, whether your property is residential or non-residential, it only makes common sense to try to do everything possible to disguise the fact that it is unoccupied. There are plenty of tips available on the subject, including things such as putting lights on timer switches and varying curtain positions etc.;
  6. closely linked to the above tip, do whatever you need to in order to avoid broadcasting the fact that your property is sitting temporarily unoccupied. Do not mention it in letting advertisements or by hanging things such as, To Let notices in windows;
  7. you may need to carefully check your landlord insurance. UK cover policies may or may not offer components of cover for certain types of legal expenses. Some may typically are not cover the legal costs associated with forcing the eviction of tenants or squatters;

Squatting in residential property, following changes in the law, is no longer as commonplace as it once was.

If you own a non-residential property that is sitting empty, the position may be more ambiguous and potentially more expensive for you to resolve.

At Cover4LetProperty, we will be only too pleased to offer you further advice on some of the insurance implications of squatting and related issues.