Dealing with Squatters: How to Safely Evict Them

Homeless man on the streetIt’s one of the worst things that could happen if you’re a landlord, someone who’s invested in a piece of land or just coming back from a long vacation: squatters.

A Tenant Who Won’t Pay Is Not a Squatter

Just to be clear, your tenant who refused to leave after you thought you’d sent them packing due to non-payment of rent is not a squatter. They are just a tenant who won’t pay rent, and the procedure for making them leave or pay rent is different from the system for handling squatters.

If your tenant has let someone else into the house and you have no agreement for the tenant to sublet, then that other person is effectively squatting, especially if the erring tenant has left already after letting the other person into the property.

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Asking a Squatter to Leave

You have a recourse for getting rid of unwanted occupants, such as a traveller who chanced upon your empty house and decided they would just call it home. You may try asking them nicely to leave, but not everyone is lucky to encounter a squatter who would up and go without a fight. There are organised squatters who can produce mail, moving receipts and such just to prove you are the one who is in the wrong. Can you imagine having to deal with that if you’d just paid for a house and are ready to move in?

Taking Back What’s Yours

If the squatter leaves (temporarily), you may enter the property and change all the locks and lock all the windows, and even post some security, but chances are — if you are dealing with an organised squatter — they may have changed the locks already. Besides, a squatter is not likely to have a conventional job, so if you plan on playing the waiting game, you might have to wait a long time before the house is empty.

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Getting Help from Professionals

Perhaps the best way to deal with this situation is to call a company that specialises in traveller removal. They have the bailiffs and the security team to make sure the removal goes as planned and as soon as possible.

It is not a good idea to pick a fight with the squatter. First of all, there is the real danger of someone getting hurt. As you are dealing with someone who may not be on his/her first rodeo, you are at a severe disadvantage should this go down to a fight.

Dealing with squatters is more than just an inconvenience. It can involve health issues, and the dangers are genuine. Instead of trying to handle this on your own, call professionals who know what to do, safely and without violating anyone’s rights.