We are being told this more and more. “I have squatters rights”.
In the last few months we have seen a large increase in travellers occupying land around industrial buildings, and putting up section 6 notices stating they have the right to squat.
(Notice the squatters handed to one of our bailiffs when we went to serve them with notice to leave.)
Squatters Rights is a myth. We can and do evict them. Legally.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) made squatting a criminal offence if the squatter is in a residential property as a trespasser, having entered it as a trespasser.
LASPO clearly defined what constituted residential. That left the obvious target of commercial property without the protection of that act.
The squatters claim that Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 affords them squatters rights.
The Act states:
OFFENCES RELATING TO ENTERING AND REMAINING ON PROPERTY
6.-(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, any violence for person who, without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence securing entry for the purpose of securing entry into any premises for himself or for any other person is guilty of an offence, provided that-
(a) there is someone present on those premises at the time who is opposed to the entry which the violence is intended to secure ; and
(b) the person using or threatening the violence knows that that is the case.
(2) The fact that a person has any interest in or right to possession or occupation of any premises shall not for the purposes of subsection (1) above constitute lawful authority for the use or threat of violence by him or anyone else for the purpose of securing his entry into those premises.
It also goes on to say:
(4) It is immaterial for the purposes of this section-
(a) whether the violence in question is directed against the person or against property ; and
(b) whether the entry which the violence is intended to secure is for the purpose of acquiring possession of the premises in question or for any other purpose.
In recent months we have seen a large increase in travellers occupying land around industrial buildings and putting up section 6 notices or handing them to the bailiffs.
In one week we carried out a traveller eviction in Leeds and a traveller eviction in London where this tactic has been used.
They squatters claim they have been legally advised that Section 6 applies to their occupation, and consequently they cannot be evicted without a court order.
We explained to the squatters that Section 6 does not apply to open land.
They came back with the argument that it does apply to open land where there are buildings, because it is classed as premises under the definition of the act Section 12:
12.-(1) In this Part of this Act- Supplementary (a) " premises " means any building, any part of a building provisions. under separate occupation, any land ancillary to a building, the site comprising any building or buildings together with any land ancillary thereto, and (for the purposes only of sections 10 and 11 above) any other place;
We were aware of the reasons why their defence would not work. Having checked by taking advice in each case, we proceeded to successfully evict them.
The squatters have not been advised well as their legal argument was wanting in a number of facts.
On each occasion the resistance from the squatters was quite high to being moved and the Police had to be called.
They wanted us arrested. However, once the police were presented with a written reasoned legal argument that what we were doing was quite legal they fully supported our actions.
As part of our professional standards we had video footage of events to keep everyone clear of any litigation.
Quality Bailiffs has over twenty five years of experience in completing possession of property and land, especially in the commercial sector.
Got squatters? Need them evicted? Need advice? Call Quality Bailiffs.
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