Squatting is defined by law as someone entering a property without the permission of the legal owner with the intention to live there. Also known as “adverse possession,” squatting is something that many landlords with empty properties are afraid of, and it can lead to difficulties when it comes to claiming for damage caused by squatters with the insurance company.
According to estimates provided by the Ministry of Justice, approximately 20,000 people squat in unoccupied properties across the UK, which is 25% more than a decade ago. With more than one million empty properties in the country, it is important for landlords to protect them from squatting, not only because evicting squatters may be a long and expensive process, but also because squatters may cause damage to the properties they choose to live in.
Getting insurance for unoccupied property
You need to keep in mind the fact that a standard Landlord Insurance policy or a Commercial Property Insurance may restrict cover if and when the property becomes vacant for an extended period of time. A property may be vacant for multiple reasons, ranging from tenancy gaps to refurbishment. You will need to notify your insurance company as soon as a property becomes vacant, no matter the reason.
If a standard insurance policy is no longer suitable for your property, you may need to look into Unoccupied Property Insurance, which may be tailored to your particular needs. With this type of insurance, you may be able to claim for damage to property caused by squatters.
What can I do to keep squatters away?
The best way to avoid the hassle of dealing with damage caused by squatters is to keep them away in the first place. There are multiple ways to reduce the risk of people squatting on your property. Some of them include securing your premises, removing any obvious ways to enter the property easily, such as scaffolding or trees, and ensuring the doors and locks are closed securely at all times. Able Investigations can help advise the best ways to keep your property secure while unoccupied.
You should also inspect your property on a regular basis, and make it difficult for squatters to make it their home by shutting off services such as electricity and water, and removing essential fixtures such as kitchen units and toilets.
What should I do if I find squatters in my property?
In a large number of cases, police are reluctant to get involved with evicting squatters without clear evidence of criminal damage; signs of forced entry may not be enough. In situations like these we always recommend getting in touch with an enforcement agency such as Able Investigations, our team are experts in removing commercial squatters quickly and efficiently.