5 Things Property Owners Should Never Try When Dealing with Squatters 

Squatting, the act of occupying an empty or abandoned property without the permission of the owner, poses a significant challenge for property owners in the UK.  

While the intention might be to reclaim what seems unused, squatting can lead to legal, financial, and safety issues for the rightful property owners. Understanding the dos and don’ts in handling such situations is crucial.  

This guide outlines five critical mistakes to avoid when dealing with squatters and offers legal steps to resolve these challenges. 

boarded up property

Preventative Measures Against Squatting 

Before delving into what not to do, it’s essential to consider how to reduce the risk of squatters occupying your property.  

Effective property management strategies include: 

  • Regular inspections 
  • Securing all entry points 
  • Installing security systems like CCTV cameras 
  • Ensuring the property is well-lit 
  • Varying the routine of visits to the property 
  • Keeping the property in good order and repair 

By making a property less attractive to squatters, owners can significantly minimise the risk of unauthorised occupation. 

Read the complete guide to evicting squatters legally 

What Not to Do When Dealing with Squatters 

1. Physically Expelling the Squatters 

Attempting to physically remove squatters can not only escalate into dangerous confrontations but also land property owners in legal trouble.  

UK law emphasises the importance of due process, and any attempt to bypass this can be seen as an infringement on the rights of those occupying the property, even if they are there illegally.  

Property owners should instead focus on legal avenues for eviction, such as obtaining a court order. Engaging in physical expulsion not only risks potential charges of assault but also could undermine any subsequent legal action taken against the squatters. 

2. Making Threats Against the Squatters 

Issuing threats, whether verbal, written, or implied, against squatters is another area where property owners must tread carefully.  

Such actions can be construed as harassment or intimidation, which are punishable offences under UK law. It’s critical to maintain a professional demeanour and pursue resolution through legal channels.  

argument between pair

Property owners are encouraged to document all interactions with squatters, maintaining a record that can support legal proceedings without resorting to threats that could compromise their case. 

3. Changing the Locks

While it might seem a straightforward measure to regain control of a property, changing the locks in an attempt to lock out squatters without a legal eviction process is against the law.  

This action can be seen as an illegal eviction or an attempt to deny the squatters their legal rights, even if their presence is unauthorised. The proper course of action involves obtaining an eviction notice or an Interim Possession Order (IPO), which legally mandates the squatters to vacate the premises.  

By following the legal process, property owners ensure the eviction is enforceable and minimises the risk of legal backlash against them. 

4. Switching Off Utilities

Some property owners might consider switching off utilities as a strategy to make the environment inhospitable for squatters, hoping it will force them to leave. However, this approach is not only unethical but also illegal, potentially qualifying as harassment. 

The law protects individuals from having essential services unjustly removed, even if they are squatting. Such actions can severely impact the owner’s legal standing and potentially lead to legal actions against them. It’s essential to keep all utilities running as normal and focus on lawful eviction procedures. 

5. Letting Interactions Go Undocumented 

Failure to document interactions with squatters is a common oversight that can significantly impact the outcome of legal proceedings.  

Every conversation, notice served, and action taken should be recorded in detail. This documentation can prove invaluable in court, demonstrating the property owner’s adherence to legal protocols and the squatters’ responses.  

Without this evidence, it becomes a matter of one person’s word against another’s, which can complicate the eviction process. Proper documentation provides a clear timeline of events and actions, supporting the property owner’s case for eviction. 

By understanding and avoiding these common mistakes, property owners can navigate the complexities of dealing with squatters more effectively. It’s crucial to approach the situation with patience and professional guidance. This ensures that actions taken are within the law, ultimately facilitating a smoother resolution to the squatter problem. 

Safe and Legal Ways Forward 

If you find yourself dealing with squatters, the recommended course of action involves a series of legal steps.  

Initially, you should call the police to report trespassers. However, for squatters in residential properties, the situation often requires legal action. Applying for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) or an eviction notice starts the formal eviction process. This must be followed meticulously to ensure that the removal is lawful and does not violate squatter rights. 

Dealing with Squatters in Commercial vs. Residential Buildings 

The approach to evicting squatters differs significantly between commercial and residential properties.  

Commercial property owners might have a slightly more straightforward path to reclaim their property, as the laws around commercial squatting are less stringent than those protecting residential squatters. Understanding the specific legalities and procedures for each is crucial for a successful eviction process.

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Dealing with squatters requires a measured, informed approach to avoid exacerbating the situation. By avoiding the five major mistakes outlined above, property owners can navigate the complexities of squatting with greater ease and legality.  

For those facing squatting issues, seeking the services of professional enforcement agents like Able Investigations can ensure that the eviction process is conducted legally and efficiently. These experts bring experience and legal knowledge, significantly reducing the stress and uncertainty involved in reclaiming your property. 

Contact us now for specialist assistance in dealing with squatters or trespassers. 

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