The Belgravia Squatters Round-up

The Belgravia squatters recently kicked out of a £15 million mansion have since moved on to another nearby property in our neck of the woods. Here’s the full story…

Activists from the Autonomous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians occupied a five-story property at Eaton Square on 25 January.

The Grade-II listed building, owned by Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko, became a platform for protest about homelessness and inequality.

The 42 squatters were evicted by bailiffs on 1st February following a court ruling, but 20-30 of them soon relocated to a seven story mansion in Grosvenor Gardens.

As a form of trespassing, ‘adverse possession’ is a legal offence for which the maximum penalty is a fine of £5000 and/or a 6 month prison sentence.

However, property owners also have considerable cause for concern. Not only can unwanted occupants constitute a nuisance and inflict damage on the building, but if they settle for over 10 years they may take control of the land and even apply for ownership.

It is therefore important for property owners to evict squatters immediately. You can remove squatters via an interim possession order (IPO) or a claim for possession, but it is a criminal offence to remove them yourself using force or threats of force.

You can only apply for an IPO if it’s been 28 days or fewer since you found out about your property being illegally occupied. After receiving confirmation of the IPO from the court, you must serve the documents on the squatters within 48 hours. In turn the squatters must leave your property within 24 hours and stay away for at least 12 months. You must then make a claim for possession in order to take possession of the property.

Please note that you cannot use an IPO if you’re also making a claim for damages caused by the squatters or if you’re attempting to evict former tenants. If it has been more than 28 days since you discovered the squatters, or if you’re simultaneously making a claim for damages, you may apply for a normal claim for possession.

We can assist with the IPO or the claim for possession, as well as providing expert legal advice about your rights and restrictions in your particular case. It is very important in these situations that you act fast and evict the squatters as a matter of urgency.

Call 020 7963 8690 or email law@cgnaylor.co.uk for more information.

Written by James Naylor

Partner, CG Naylor LLP.