Removing unwanted trespassers from private land

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In the latest UK200Group blog post, Charlotte Wilson, Solicitor, Lester Aldridge discusses the steps to take when removing unwanted trespassers from private land.

Charlotte Wilson
There has been a growing trend of trespassers taking advantage of holiday periods and moving onto industrial estates and commercial sites where they know owners will find it more difficult to remove them owing to public holidays.

Property and land owners and occupiers should be extra vigilant at these times, and remember that the next bank holiday is only a few weeks away.

Despite being nuisance, trespassers often cause damage to land and property which may put the land owner to great cost once they have eventually vacated. An example of this is fly tipping. It is common for trespassers to visit local building sites, offering to remove building rubble and waste very cheaply only to dump that material on the land they illegally occupy.

In some cases, this material can consist of hazardous waste such as asbestos. This can result in a very expensive clean-up bill for the landowner when they eventually regain possession.

Trespassers are often well versed in the court processes required to move them on. If you own property which is currently a vacant development site or has a large car park, we have prepared the following guidance to prepare you should the worst happen:

1. Take immediate legal advice

Upon discovering that trespassers have invaded your property, the temptation is to call the police or take forceful action yourself to remove them. Unfortunately trespassing on commercial property is not in itself a criminal offence, and landowners may commit an offence themselves by attempting to remove the trespassers themselves. Whilst we recommend to landowners that they should inform the local police force of the trespassers’ presence, police powers to assist are limited so civil action needs to be effected without delay.

It is imperative that landowners take legal advice the moment they discover trespassers on their land, in order to benefit from expeditious relief from the court. The court will want evidence that a landowner has acted quickly.

2. The proceedings

In most cases, a claim will be made in the County Court nearest to the site. It will set out the landowner’s right to possession and include a witness statement giving details of the occupation. In exceptional circumstances, where there is evidence of fly tipping and/or damage, a claim should be issued in the High Court to expedite the proceedings.

3. Eviction

Once possession has been ordered a land owner can instruct a bailiff to remove the trespassers from the site. We recommend using a High Court Enforcement bailiff who can usually effect a same day eviction.


Suffering a trespass can be a distressing time for a landowner, particularly when damage is being caused. However, the eviction process in most cases is relatively quick and simple. Providing ownership of the land is not in dispute, possession can invariably be obtained within a two weeks of the invasion.

Of course, prevention is better than cure and landowners should ensure any vacant property is secure to try and avoid trespassers getting access to their land in the first place. However some trespassers are quite determined and should landowners be unlucky enough to experience this problem, they can be assured that the Property Litigation team at Lester Aldridge are on hand to provide a fast and effective eviction service.

For more information, please contact Charlotte Wilson, Solicitor, on 01202 786193 or

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