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Direct Repossession and its Dangers: A warning to property owners and Landlords

Liam O’Shea, Director at Astle Paterson sets out the dangers of seeking to obtain possession of a residential property from a tenant, licencee, trespasser or squatter.

It is a criminal offence for any property owner or Landlord to use or threaten violence to secure entry to a residential property if, at any time there is someone present at the property who does not consent; for example, if a Landlord forces entry by breaking a window or picking a lock then they may be guilty of a criminal offence.

Trespassers or Squatters

If you were resident in the property until being excluded by persons who entered the property without your permission then you may have defence – the use of force to regain one’s home after it has been seized by ‘squatters’ is not illegal.

The right of direct physical repossession is limited only to property owners who resided at the property immediately before they were excluded against their will by trespassers or squatters.  It is crucial that any repossession takes place during a temporary absence of the trespassers.

Even in the above situations, property owners may find themselves in difficulty.   Accusations, false or otherwise, can be made against them by the by trespasser or squatter – ultimately the allegations could be successfully defended by the property owner but by then a significant amount of time, money and energy could have been wasted.

Tenants or Licencees

Court proceedings are always required to remove residential tenants and licensees who do not give up possession voluntarily.

Should a property owner wrongfully evict a residential tenant or licensee without a Court Order or, without the consent of the residential tenant or licensee, this may constitute an ‘illegal eviction’ and criminal prosecution (the usual punishment being a fine (or prison for persistent offenders) and civil proceedings for compensation against the property owner would normally follow.

Before undertaking any attempts to remove an occupier of your property you should seek the advice of a Solicitor with experience in the law of Landlord & Tenant. 

At Astle Paterson (Solicitors in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) our Litigation Department has the necessary knowledge and experience to help property owners and Landlords through the potential difficulties of regaining possession of their property.

Please contact Liam O’Shea of Astle Paterson’s Dispute Resolution & Litigation Department on 01283 531366 or by way of email at loshea@astlepaterson.co.uk

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