Squatters and unauthorised occupants
Find out what you can do if you become aware of the presence of squatters in a property that should otherwise be vacant, and what action can be taken to get them out of the property.
Squatting is when someone is occupying an empty or abandoned property which they dont own or rent, and without the owner's permission. This is often without the owner's knowledge and without any legal right to do so.
Simply being on another persons property without their permission is not, of itself, a criminal offence. But if squatters commit offences, such as criminal damage or theft for example, their behaviour is punishable under the general criminal law and the police can take action against them.
Empty council properties are usually awaiting repair, redecoration or re-letting to other tenants and councils are keen to ensure they stay empty so that people who are on the waiting list has the opportunity to find a home.
Sometimes the first person to know that squatters are living in a particular property is a neighbour. If you see someone breaking into an empty property you should call the police straight away and if you have one, then tell your caretaker or housing officer. If you see any other suspicious behaviour or anyone who appears to be squatting in a property, you should contact your local council.
The following links will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local council's website where you can find out more.
Getting squatters removed
The laws on squatting are quite complex. In some cases it may be difficult for the council to evict someone who is squatting, especially if they have been in the property for a long time.
It may be several months before a property that squatters are living in can be let out again. This can be because of the time it takes to bring a court action to move squatters out, or the repairs that may have to be carried out when they have been moved.
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