Using common law for evictions

A trespasser is defined as someone who enters a person’s land or property without the landowner’s permission. As a landowner, you have two main options in order to evict trespasser(s) which we will take you through.

Can the police help?

Because trespass on your land is a civil offence and not a criminal one, you cannot simply call the police and ask them to make the trespasser(s) leave. It is advisable to call them if an eviction takes place but they cannot get directly involved, they are rather there as observers to see if any criminal offence takes place. Government legislation on evictions states that the exception to this is if 2 or more trespassers have, between them:

  • caused damage to either the land or to property that sits on the land
  • used threatening, abusive or insulting language or behaviour towards the occupier, family member or an employee or agent of his of any kind
  • six or more vehicles on the land

If any of these conditions are met and the police are satisfied that the occupier or someone on their behalf has taken reasonable measures to ask the trespassers to leave, then the police can direct the trespasser(s) off the site and take with them any property and/or vehicles they have on the land.

Common law

Common law, Section 61 of the Criminal Justice Act, is the simplest way to remove trespassers and means that a court order does not need to be obtained. The first step is for a representative of the landowner or the landowner themselves to ask the trespasser(s) to leave their property. After this, the offenders must be given time (usually 24 hours) to leave the premises. If they do not leave, then the landowner has the right to use no more than reasonable force in order to make the trespasser(s) leave their land. Before this step is carried out, we would always recommend getting a certificated enforcement officer involved, as otherwise the landowner could be liable for any injury caused or be vulnerable to any attack from a trespasser(s).

Order for possession

Another option for the landowner is to apply through the court for an order for possession. Once this has been awarded, the order can be transferred to the High Court so a writ of possession can be granted. As soon as the writ of possession has been received, the landowner can instruct High Court Enforcement Officers (such as Able Investigations) to remove the trespasser(s) using no more than reasonable force.

Obtaining an order for possession does take longer than common law and will be more costly but is seen as the final step as any trespasser(s) breaking this order are committing a criminal offence.

Able Investigations’ team has years of experience of both assisting in common law evictions and also using a writ of possessions. For help with process serving, call us on 0845 370 7401 or fill out our contact form.

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