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Can You Sell a House With Squatters?

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Can you sell a house with squatters?  You can sell a property with squatters quickly and at a competitive price.

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Can I sell my home with squatters?

Yes, you can sell a home with squatters to a cash house buyer such as Property Saviour.

If you own a home, you’re probably aware of how much a nightmare squatters can be. To make matters worse, the information on how to deal with squatters and sell your property can be quite confusing.

Many people tend to mix up squatting with trespassing, but these are actually two separate issues.

While trespassing is considered a legal offence, squatting in a house refers to the act of moving into an abandoned or unused house. Therefore, if you find squatters in your home and there are no other legal offences involved, your dispute may be treated as a civil issue.

Evicting the squatters under these circumstances can be challenging.

Fortunately, there are ways to sell a property that has squatters. This article will discuss some helpful tips on how to sell your home even if it is occupied by squatters.

What is a squatter?

Squatters live in a property without the owner’s permission or legal right to do so. It is important to note that a tenant who is behind on their rent and still living in the property is not considered a squatter.

Can You Sell A House With Squatters
Squatters live in a property without the owner's permission or legal right to do so.

What is trespassing?

Trespassing occurs when someone enters another person’s property without permission. It can also happen if the owner initially gave permission but later revokes it.

What are squatters' rights?

  1. If a uniformed police officer suspects that a property is being squatted in, they have the authority to enter and search the premises in order to apprehend the person responsible for squatting in a residential building, as stated in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). They can make the arrest without needing a warrant.
  1. Section 144 of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 makes it an offence to squat in a residential property if the following conditions are met: the person entered and remains in the property without permission, they are aware or should be aware that they are trespassing, and they are living in the building or intend to live there for any period of time. Additionally, if a request to vacate the premises has been made by a displaced residential occupier or a protected intended occupier and is ignored, it constitutes an offence. According to this act, if the offender is arrested and convicted, they may face a fine of £5,000 and/or a maximum prison sentence of 6 months.
  1. Although squatting in a non-residential building or land is not considered a crime in itself, it becomes a crime when the property is damaged. This includes actions such as breaking windows or doors to gain entry, vandalizing the premises, refusing to leave when ordered to by a court, stealing property, using electricity or gas without permission, and dumping rubbish. Offenders engaging in such behaviour may be charged with criminal damage under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
  2. It is typically considered a crime to refuse to vacate land or property when instructed to do so by the owner, the police, the council, or a repossession order.

UK squatters’ rights

Long-term squatters have certain rights. If they can provide evidence that they have continuously occupied a property for 10 years (or 12 years if the property is not registered with HM Land Registry), and that they have acted as owners without the permission of the actual owner (previous renters cannot apply), then they can apply to become the registered owner of the property or land.

Can a squatter claim a house UK?
Trespassing occurs when someone enters another person's property without permission.

Can a squatter claim a house UK?

A person who has occupied a property or land without the owner’s permission for a long time can become the registered owner.

To do this, they must complete a form for adverse possession and send it, along with a statement, to the HM Land Registry Citizen Centre. The HM Land Registry will then review the application to determine its validity and inform the owner.

The original owner of the land will then have 65 days to accept or reject the application.

If any objections are raised, the application will typically be automatically rejected. However, if there are no objections, the applicant will be registered as the owner of the property.

If a long-term squatter is still in possession of the property and the owner has not attempted to remove them or reclaim the property after 2 years, they can reapply. It is crucial, therefore, to try to remove the squatters immediately.

How do you remove squatters from your property?

While squatting in a house is illegal, Police are likely to treat it as a civil matter.  This is because when squatters take possession of a property, they claim that the door was ‘already open’ and they didn’t do any damage to it. 

Squatters we have dealt with have used friendly locksmiths to pick locks, take pictures of an open door and ‘moved in’.

If you don’t mind a bit of confrontation, you can use ‘reasonable force’ to physically evict squatters.

The house could be empty because you have inherited it and need to sell it.  You probably live 200 miles away, so it is difficult to keep an eye on it.

You cannot insure a house that requires significant renovation and is not in a habitable condition, as these are standard insurance terms.

If you are a property developer, you will have applied for planning permission or building regulation approval.

This process may take up to 3 months from start to finish before builders begin regular activity.

If the doors and windows are not secure, as they are old and could be easily forced open.

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Can police remove squatters?

If someone is trespassing, the police will treat it as criminal and remove them. In the case of a squatter, the police may not want to intervene immediately, but it’s important to show that you’ve informed the authorities. Make sure to serve the squatter with an eviction notice.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to evict squatters by force or by threatening them, as this is illegal, and you may be prosecuted. Instead, follow these guidelines to safely and legally evict them:

Firstly, as the property owner, you should call the police. They have the authority to remove trespassers from residential properties legally. Keep in mind that while the police may evict squatters from a residential property, they can only evict squatters from a commercial property if the squatters have committed a criminal act.

Secondly, the owner should serve an eviction notice.

If serving an eviction notice does not work and it has been 28 days or less since you found out your property has been squatted in, you can apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO).

To apply, use form N130 and submit it to your local county court. 

The owner must post a copy of the possession claim forms through the letterbox or attach it to the front door of the squatted property at least 5 days before the court hearing (or 2 days if squatting in a commercial property). These forms must include a defence form and details of the time and place of the court hearing.

Finally, to repossess your property, you need to claim possession. This can be done on the IPO form or separately online.

Please note that you cannot use the IPO to claim damages caused by the squatters or if you are evicting a former tenant or sub-letter. You could make a possession claim if you discovered the squatting over 28 days ago.

After being served with an IPO, squatters can be imprisoned if they do not leave your property within 24 hours and stay away from it for the following 12 months.

How to protect my property from squatters?
If you live nearby, visit the property every few days to check the property is okay.

What steps can I take to protect my property from squatters?

  • If you live nearby, visit the property every few days to check the property is okay.
  • Install a Ring-style camera system with an active alarm that alerts you if there’s a break-in.
  • You can set up lamps on a timer to give the impression that someone is inside.
  • Consider boarding up the windows and doors.  This will keep thieves out, and minimise any damage in case young juveniles set it on fire.  Selling a fire damaged house will be even harder.
  • If a property is waiting for planning permission, you should consider placing a property guardian at a low rent to keep an eye on it. As a landlord, you would be required to provide a minimum standard of accommodation, which is not possible if the property is derelict.
  • Tidy up the garden too. An overgrown garden will catch the attention of people who are looking for a place to squat. They usually won’t bother walking up the path and checking things out if the garden looks well-maintained.

Real life example: I watched a bailiff program a while ago where they were evicting squatters from an unused office building. They mentioned that since squatting in residential property became a crime, it is rarely enforced by the police due to budget cuts. Now, squatters have started squatting in commercial buildings because owners have to go through the court process, which takes months, to remove them. In contrast, with residential properties, the police can be called, but they often consider it a civil matter, leaving the owners to deal with it on their own. I am currently in the process of selling my late mother's home, which is currently vacant. I just found out that squatters have moved in. These are not disgruntled tenants; the property has never been rented out, only occupied by my late mother. I would like to know the process of removing them and how long it is likely to take? It is challenging for me to be directly involved since I live over 200 miles away. Do my rights as the owner supersede the squatters? Any help or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Usually, you cannot use force to evict squatters. However, there are exceptions if you already live in the property or are about to move in, such as when you have purchased the house and are about to relocate. In these cases, you are allowed to break down your own door if necessary. Dealing with squatters can be challenging, as they may threaten you with no-win no fee lawyers. In such situations, it might be advisable to hire a solicitor and apply to court for a possession order. It is important to note that this can be a costly option. It is also important to anticipate that the property may be damaged by the squatters. Therefore, it is wise to have funds ready to refurbish, secure, and either sell, rent, or occupy the property quickly. This helps to prevent the same squatters from returning within a week. Squatters often target properties that they perceive as easy targets, so if a property remains vacant for too long, they are likely to come back.

Selling a Property with Squatters

Removing squatters can be a costly and overwhelming process. Not only will you have to deal with the emotional toll of the situation, but you will also be left with a property in desperate need of renovation.

Selling a property with squatters in it is incredibly challenging, as gaining access for traditional viewings becomes impossible. This makes the property unappealing to potential buyers, due to the legal and financial risks involved.

In such cases, it may be wise to consider working with a professional property buyer like Property Saviour. With decades of combined experience, we can confidently offer solutions for problem properties.

It’s important to note that insuring squatted properties is virtually impossible, leaving you at significant financial risk if the squatters accidentally or intentionally damage your property. While squatting is undoubtedly a major concern for owners of vacant properties, there are options available to you.

If you own an empty property and are worried about squatters, but don’t want to bear the expense of securing it, Property Saviour can help. As a cash house buyer, we eliminate the need to wait for completion chains or deal with unexpected delays.

We will make you an offer for your empty house today. Our expert valuation team will provide a cash offer within hours of receiving your property details, and our dedicated team of solicitors will ensure the legal process proceeds smoothly once the offer is accepted. This allows you to sell your property quickly, efficiently, and at a fair price.

If you have squatters in your property and want to sell your house fast without going through the lengthy eviction process, reach out to Property Saviour. Eviction can take months or even years and result in substantial legal costs and repairs.

By choosing a professional cash buyer like Property Saviour, you can avoid the usual estate agent routine and the associated burdens. We will value your property and make you a free cash offer today.

If you’ve already dealt with squatters and incurred expensive legal costs, you may prefer to sell your house as-is rather than renovating it. In that case, Property Saviour can help.

We buy houses in any condition, offering cash offers with no fees or obligations. We also provide a sell flat fast service for homeowners and landlords who have apartments and flats affected by squatters.

Often, properties in extremely poor condition are deemed “uninhabitable” and cannot be purchased with a mortgage. However, at Property Saviour, we use our own funds to purchase houses and flats, eliminating the lengthy delays associated with sourcing finance that most buyers face.

Lastly, if you don’t own an empty or derelict property but know of one in your area, send an email to Property Saviour with a photo of the property and its full address.

If we are successful in purchasing the property, we will pay you a cash reward. Get in touch with us today.

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