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Evicting Squatters: Travellers return to Ealing Common

by Tarjinder Rayat — Posted on 8 March, 2019

Evicting Squatters: Travellers return to Ealing Common

Ealing Council were forced to take legal action against yet another traveller encampment who have set up again on Ealing common. A Section 77 notice had previosuly been issued, meaning that if the squatters failed to leave the common the Council would apply to the court for an eviction notice.

After evicting squatters less than a month earlier, residents have reported that the travellers had returned to the Warwick Road extension near the common. Numerous complaints were made by residents regarding the travellers’ excessive fly-tipping, loud noise and verbal abuse. The common also saw multiple bank holiday bonfires, which were repeatedly put out by the fire brigade. Further allegations of arson have since been made, with claims that some of the travellers caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Calls have been made by local councillors for a borough-wide injunction. Local residents also criticised the Council’s speed in dealing with the issue.

How do I go about evicting squatters from my property?

In a residential letting, the bailiffs will first require an Order for Possession and a warrant of possession in order to remove the occupier(s) from your home. In a case involving squatters, the application you need to make is an interim Order for Possession. If the Court makes this Order, then any person occupying your premises without your consent must leave your property within 24 hours of the order being served on them.

Legal Requirements for Evicting a Squatter

The Court will usually decide within a few days of the application being issued. There are certain requirements for this type of application, particularly:

  1. The premises being occupied must be a building, part of a building or land ancillary to a building. This means that it cannot be open land. As this is a house, you satisfy this requirement.
  2. You must have the right to immediate possession and must always have had this right. Assuming that you are a freehold owner of this land you will satisfy this requirement, as the property belongs to you.
  3. The application must be made within 28 days of the date you first became aware of the squatter in question.
  4. The squatter must not have been given a right to occupy the premises by a legal tenant or lessee. This would have been an issue if the previous tenant had not left the property. However, since the tenant has left, any supposed right that the occupier had to stay in the property fell away on the termination of the tenant’s tenancy agreement.
  5. You are only making the claim against the squatters for recovery of the premises, rather than for any damages or costs that may have been accrued through the actions of the squatter. You also satisfy this requirement.

Provision of undertakings for the Eviction

The Court will be careful to ensure that this person is in fact a squatter and consequently you will be asked to give certain undertakings or confirm your willingness to provide these undertakings if required. These undertakings are:

  1. To allow the occupier back into the premises and pay them damages if an interim possession order is made and the Court later decides you were not entitled to the Order.
  2. Not to let the premises to anyone else or damage them, or dispose of any of the occupier’s possessions until the Court makes a final decision on your right to possession.

Once the application has been submitted to Court and the claim has been given a claim number the Judge will consider the application and fix a hearing date. The application forms will then be sealed and handed back to us, in order to serve on the Occupier within 24 hours of the claim being issued. This must be served within 24 hours, failing which the application will be dismissed. Once served, a certificate of service must be completed which must be filed at Court on or before the Hearing for possession.

The Hearing

At the Hearing the Judge will consider the application in detail, including your statements and undertakings. If the Judge grants the Order for possession then another Hearing date for the final possession order will be arranged. Once an Interim Order is made, this must be served on the Occupier within 48 hours of the Judge having approved the Order, and once again a certificate of service must be filed at Court before the final hearing date.

The Occupier must vacate the property within 24 hours of receipt of the Interim Order for Possession. As it is a criminal offence to disobey the interim possession order, you can ask the police to arrest the occupier if they fail to vacate the property within 24 hours. If you do need to contact the police then you must provide them with a copy of the interim possession order and a copy of the certificate of service of that order on the Occupier.

You are not required to attend the final Hearing for Possession but you can attend to give additional evidence if you wish. On this date, the judge can make the final possession order, dismiss your claim, or give directions for how your claim should be handled going forward. If a final order for possession is made then you can request the Court to grant a warrant for possession in the event the occupier has still not vacated the premises, at which point the bailiffs can be instructed to remove this person from your property.

How Starck Uberoi can help 

Do you need help with evicting a tenant or squatter from your property? Our property lawyers are experienced in dealing with evictions and will be on hand throughout the process. For more information, please visit our Landlord & Tenant page, or to book an appointment please call 020 8840 6640. We are based in Ealing; our West London Ealing office is located 10 minutes from Ealing Broadway station. For an appointment at our London Belgravia office a few minutes from Victoria Station call 020 7824 5118.

About Tarjinder Rayat

Tarjinder is a qualified Solicitor and heads the landlord and tenant department. She has a strong local reputation for dealing with landlord & tenant matters including possession, unlawful evictions and disrepair claims as well as conducting general litigation matters.