IT can be a pain to have squatters invade your abandoned property and refuse to leave.
Here is what you need to know about their and your rights.
What is squatting in a property?
Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there or intends to live there, according to the government’s website.
You’re not a squatter if you enter a property with the permission of the landlord and are renting and have fallen behind with payments.
Squatting in non-residential properties isn’t a crime.
Is squatting illegal?
It is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’ and is illegal in residential buildings with the potential for a six-month prison sentence and/or a £5,000 fine.
It is a crime to damage the property, fly-tip, steal from the property, use utilities without consent and not abide by a noise abatement notice.
The website states it is a “usually a crime” not to leave land or property when you’re instructed to by the owner, the police, the council or due to a repossession order.
What are the squatters’ rights to property in the UK?
A squatter can become owner of a house if they lived long enough in it.
They will have to get legal advice from a conveyancer or a solicitor before.
Once they do that, they can start filling in the application form to claim ownership.
The squatters would have to fill in a form for adverse possession, complete with a statement of truth prepared with a solicitor, which will be decided by HM Land Registry.
The owner has 65 days to object and if they do, the application is normally automatically rejected.
They could apply again in two years if the property hasn’t been reclaimed and they’re still in possession of the property – and the owner hasn’t tried to remove them.
How long do I have to squat in a house before I own it?
A long-term squatter can become the registered owner of a property or land they’ve occupied without the owner’s permission.
To do so they would have to prove they have occupied the property for 10 years without the owner’s permission – 12 years if it’s not registered with HM Land Registry – and that they have acted as owners of the property for the whole of that time.
Can squatters be evicted?
You can remove squatters using an interim possession order (IPO) or by making a claim for possession.
You could, however, be committing a crime if you try to remove the squatters yourself using force or threatening force.
An application for an IPO can be made within 28 days of having learned the property has been taken over.
The relevant local county court will send confirmation of your IPO within days and documents you must give the squatters.
After being served an IPO, squatters must leave your property within 24 hours and stay away for 12 months.