Trespassers - procedure for landlords to evict trespassers

Owners of a property, which is occupied by trespassers or anyone who does not have a right to be in the property, can apply to the court for a possession order.

This is similar to the standard possession procedure. It will usually be suitable to use this procedure against, for example unlawful sub-tenants or people who were given permission to occupy the property, but the permission has now been withdrawn (licensees).

Tenants themselves can use this procedure against anyone who has entered their rented property without their permission.

It is not necessary to name the trespassers in the court documents. They can be referred to simply as "persons unknown". Proceedings can be brought in the County Court using a form called a "Claim Form". Proceedings can be issued in the High Court if there is a substantial risk of public disturbance or of serious harm to people or property requiring the court to make an immediate decision.

An affidavit (sworn statement) should also be sent to the court setting out;

i) What interest the person applying has in the property, (i.e. owner/tenant);

ii) How the property came to be occupied without their permission.

iii) That the trespasser's name is unknown, (if the name is known it should be stated on the court documents).

If the name of the trespasser is known then copies of the court papers must be personally served on the trespasser together with details of the hearing date by handing the documents to them. If the names are not known then it is okay to;

a) Fix a copy of the court documents to the main door; or

b) Fix them in a position where they will be seen; or

c) Insert them through the letterbox in a sealed transparent envelope addressed to "the occupiers"; or

d) Fix a stake into the ground of the property and attach the documents in a sealed transparent envelope addressed to the occupier.

Unless the trespassers have a defence the court will usually make an order for possession to take place immediately. Once an order for possession has been made it can be enforced by a County Court bailiff (on a warrant of execution form) or High Court sheriff (on a writ of possession form). A possession order made against trespassers in the High Court can be enforced either in the High Court or in the County Court.

It is also possible to apply for an "Interim Possession Order", (although this cannot be used against former licensees, tenants or sub-tenants). This procedure also cannot be used if the landowner is claiming another remedy on top of possession, (e.g. damages).

If the trespasser fails to comply with the interim possession order it then becomes a criminal offence for which they can be arrested.

Application is made in the County Court using a Form N130, which includes an affidavit and Form N131. Service of the application should take place in the same way as described above, but must be served within 48 hours of the order being made or the order will lapse.

The court will then fix a "return date" when any trespassers can come to court to object to a final possession order being made.

Tenancies granted before 15th January 1989

Private Housing