Do you have an empty commercial property? Whether it’s a building or open land, there is a chance that empty commercial properties may have unlawful occupation by squatters at some point. This is certainly not a favourable situation for a commercial landlord. There are many detrimental effects that may occur such as vandalisation, littering as well as illegal activities taking place on the premises.
If you’ve found squatters on your commercial property, then we would recommend getting them removed as soon as possible. There are many procedures in place that should be followed to the letter to ensure the process of removal is smooth, otherwise it may result in criminal charges against you as the property owner. All evictions should be carried out legally and properly.
Hire a Reputable Enforcement Agency
Squatting on a non-residential property is generally not considered to be a crime, however, damaging said property and refusing to leave is. You cannot act of your own accord to remove those who have taken possession of the property and removal of squatters using force or threat is also a crime.
Due to the potential adverse effects, we would recommend hiring a reputable Eviction Response Team who are able to act in the interest of safety and legality.
Removing Commercial Squatters
When you first enlist the help of an enforcement agency, they will firstly need to assess the situation to determine how it will need to be handled going forward. There are a few ways in which a squatter can be evicted:
Interim Posession Order (IPO) – This is where an agency applies and obtains an IPO issued from a court that means anyone who has settled on the property without consent will need to leave within 24 hours. A court may take a week or so to grant an IPO and you will have to prove that the squatters are occupying your commercial premises and that you own the property. If this is not complied with, then the Order can only be enforced by the Police.
The are several requirements that must be met before an IPO can be made:
- The occupied premises must be a building, part of a building or land ancillary to a building. It does not apply to open land
- The claimant must have an immediate right to possession of the premises being occupied and that right must have existed for the whole time the premises were illegally occupied
- The claim must be made within 28 days of finding out the premises were being occupied
- An IPO cannot be used to evict former tenants, sub-tenants of licensees
- An IPO cannot be used if the claimant is also trying to recover damages
Common Law – A Common Law eviction is where an enforcement agency will try to reason with the squatters and in some case have police on standby to ensure that the eviction is carried out peacefully. The Common Law of England and Wales is a very complex area, please ensure you speak to one of our experienced agents to discuss the options available to your specific case.
Court Order – If a Common Law eviction doesn’t work or is not practical, then you can apply for a possession order with the county court that has jurisdiction. After this has been granted, you can then hire an enforcement agency who are able to transfer the judgement to the High Court and remove the trespassers from your land. This is normally considered to be a more costly process that takes a little more time.
It may be possible to expedite matters and have a hearing listed in the High Court, however there are requirements which need to be met for the High Court to allow this. Please speak to one of our experienced agents to discuss the options available to your specific case.
If you’re in need of an Eviction Response Team, County has obtained a wealth of experience and professionalism over four decades, acting successfully on behalf of its clients nationwide. Be sure to get in contact with our team now to talk about how we can help you.