Squatted property: the laws

What is squatting?

Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there or intends to live there. This is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’.

Squatting in residential buildings (like a house or flat) is illegal. It can lead to 6 months in prison, a £5,000 fine or both.

Squat Solutions helps you out of this complicated situation

Eviction of squatters of residential properties

If someone is squatting a residential property, he/she can be easily evicted and arrested.

Report squatters.

At First, call the police if you:

  • find people squatting in a residential property you own;
  • see someone breaking into anywhere;
  • think someone is squatting.

Squatting in non-residential properties

A non-residential property is any building or land that is not designed to be lived in.

Simply being on another person’s non-residential property without their permission is not usually a crime. The police can take action if squatters commit other crimes when entering or staying in a property.

Crimes include:

  • causing damage when entering the property;
  • causing damage while in the property;
  • not leaving when they’re told to by a court;
  • stealing from the property;
  • using utilities like electricity or gas without permission;
  • fly-tipping;
  • not obeying a noise abatement notice.

A squatter can be easily evicted if the police are not willing to carry out an arrest; the property owner does not want to involve the police; you are living in commercial premises.

The owner can enter and change the locks while the squatters are all out.

If a squatter is in the property, the owner must normally get a court order if the squatter refuses to leave. It is illegal for the owner to use or threaten violence against a squatter.

The owner must post a copy of their possession claim forms through the letterbox or attach it to the front door at least 5 days before the court hearing (or 2 days if you are squatting in a commercial property).

These must include a defence form and details of the time and place of the court hearing.

If the squatter is qualified as such by the court, the court will normally order him/her to leave the property immediately.

If the squatter does not leave, the owner must ask the court bailiffs to evict him/her.

Make a claim for possession if it’s been more than 28 days since you found out about the squatters.

Interim possession orders

You can only apply for an IPO if it’s been 28 days or less since you found out your property’s been squatted.

Fill in an application for an IPO and send it to your local county court.

The court will send you confirmation of your IPO within a few days. They will also send you documents that you must give to the squatters within 48 hours.

After being served with an IPO squatters can be sent to prison if they do not:

  • leave your property within 24 hours;
  • stay away from your property for 12 months.

To get final possession of the property, you must make a claim for possession. You can do this on your IPO application form or separately online.


You cannot use an IPO if:

  • you’re also making a claim for damages caused by the squatters -­‐ instead you should make an ordinary claim for possession;
  • you’re trying to evict former tenants, sub-­‐tenants or licensees.

Squat Solutions helps you out of this complicated situation