Handling squatters in commercial premises

The standard route is to commence proceedings in the County Court. In exceptional circumstances you can issue in the High Court.

In the Claim Form you will be seeking an Order for Summary Possession.  A hearing can be given within a week or 2 days in urgent circumstances.

Once the Order for Summary Possession is obtained, service on the squatters is usually effected by a bailiff. The bailiff will warn the squatters and if this fails they can then return and forcibly remove them.

It is important an initial warning is given to comply with protocol, but this can happen immediately following the hearing. As such, forcible removal could be achieved within a week, however, it can be from 10 to 28 days and we advise clients accordingly.

Benefits of this court mechanism include:

  1. Can be cost effective;
  2. Transparent court structure means as a landlord it would be difficult to be found conducting an improper eviction; and
  3. The Possession Order can apply to the same squatters, for 6 months, should they return. In this instance you do not need to issue another claim you simply instruct the bailiffs.

The negative side of this process is:

  1. It can be a slow process; and
  2. Enforcement once the order is obtained will reply on the bailiffs’ availability.

If time is of the essence you could look to obtain an Interim Possession Order.

INTERIM POSSESSION ORDER

An Interim Possession Order is an interim remedy available prior to a Possession Hearing. You would look to issue an application for an Interim Possession Order at the same time as your claim for a Possession Order.

Service of the Interim Possession Order must be made on the squatters within 48 hours of being issued. A certified bailiff should effect service. If the squatters fail to leave within 24 hours, they are committing a criminal offence and may be arrested by the police or evicted by privately instructed bailiffs.

A final hearing will be held within 7 days to convert it into a final order for possession.  The overall timescale for possession would then be 3 to 10 days.

However, an Interim Possession Order can only be used to recover possession of premises (not open land) and within 28 days of you becoming aware of the squatters’ occupation.

For more information contact us…

0207 426 0382

enquiries@acitylawfirm.com