Several authorities have recently remarked about issues surrounding properties occupied by Squatters when having to undertake a Public Health Funeral.

Since 2012 it has been a criminal offence to squat in residential properties, with a fine of up to £5000 and a six month prison sentence being the maximum fine imposed. Squatting in a non residential property is not illegal, though it is a criminal offence to cause damage to that property.

Advice on the Government Website – Gov.uk – is that anyone who originally enters a property with the permission of the landlord/Owner is not a squatter. For example, if someone is renting a property and falls behind with rent payments they are not squatting if they continue to live there. Seperate legal action under housing legislation will need to be taken.

If a case has been referred to the Council and you go to search a property finding it is occupied you must establish if they have a tenancy agreement. If it transpires that they are squatters, you have the right to demand they leave. Usually a call to the Police for assistance to remove them can be made. Given how stretched the Police are, it may not be treated as a priority. You must not try to evict the squatters yourself, if they refuse to move you have a few options open to you. Apply for an interim possession order if it has been less than 28 days since they were discovered. An authorities legal department should be able to organise this. Once received it ust be served on squatters within 48 hours of being issued by the Court. Once an IPO has been served the individuals have 24 hours to vacate or face prison.

Unfortunately, properties can end up being left in a poor state, should you need help to clear and secure the team at Finders International can assist. For details you can visit the Finders International Website or speak to Finders Property Sales & Service Manager, Saida Abasheikh on 020 3859 4418.