Squatters Rights: Dealing with Unwanted Occupants

squatters rights two squatters sat on a mattress

Squatting is the term used for when an individual inhabits an empty or abandoned property without permission from the property owner. Squatters often settle in without the property owner knowing and without any legal right to do so. Being on someone else’s premises without their consent is not directly a criminal offence. 

But if squatters commit crimes, such as criminal damage or theft, their demeanour is punishable, and the police can take action against them. 

When Can Squatters Get Arrested? 

Squatters can get arrested if they’re inhabiting a property, and: 

  • They have no permission from the owner to be there 
  • They entered the property without permission 
  • They know that they’re trespassing 

A squatter can get arrested for inhabiting any residential property designed to be a living space before their arrival. Squatting rights also relates to temporary accommodations such as caravans and mobile homes. 

When Can’t Squatters Be Arrested? 

It isn’t possible to have a squatter arrested if they initially entered the property with consent from the owner, for example, a tenant. 

You can’t have a tenant arrested for squatting if their tenancy has recently ended or they’re behind with their rent. As part of squatters’ rights, a landlord must give the tenant notice and, in most cases, go to court to evict the squatting tenant to repossess the property. 

Police Rights 

Police officers have the right to enter and search your premises with the intent to arrest someone if they suspect someone of squatting there. 

The squatting offence can result in a maximum prison term of six months and a £5000 fine, or both. 

Homeless Squatters Rights 

If you’re dealing with a squatter who would become homeless without the current roof over their head, there might be a fix to help them and you. The council may re-house or help them find somewhere to stay. 

Dealing With Unwanted Occupants 

Have you got squatters on your property? Call the police using the non-emergency number, and they will help guide you through the process. 

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