The following Property Disputes guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Trespass—remedies
  • Physical repossession
  • Residential buildings—criminal offence of squatting
  • Injunctions
  • Interim injunctions
  • Quia timet injunctions and persons unknown
  • Possession proceedings
  • Damages

This Practice Note covers the remedies available to landowners who find their property has been unlawfully occupied by a trespasser or squatter, issues that may arise as a result of trespass, potential remedies available to the landowner including physical repossession, while taking into account the Criminal Law Act 1977 (CLA 1977) and the exception in respect of displaced residential occupiers, use of police powers to arrest where appropriate, the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO 2012) in criminalising residential squatting, injunctions and interim injunctions (including quia timet injunctions), damages including the negotiating damages model, mesne profits, exemplary damages and aggravated damages, anticipated damages, and res judicata defences.

The methods of regaining possession from a trespasser which are available to a landowner include:

  1. physical repossession

  2. arrest of the trespasser by the police for a criminal offence

  3. injunction (including quia timet and interim injunctions)

  4. possession claim (including a claim for an interim possession order)

In addition to the above remedies which are available for regaining possession, a landowner may also seek damages in respect of the trespass.

Physical repossession

At common law, if a trespasser refuses to leave, the person who is in, or entitled to, possession can remove him from the land, using no more force than is reasonably necessary. If the force or violence is

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