The Common Law on Trespassing

Trespassing is a legal issue that directly impacts your rights as a landowner, the security of your premises, and your peace of mind.

Trespassing occurs when someone unlawfully enters or remains on your property without your permission. It is important to note that trespassing can take various forms, from individuals unknowingly crossing boundaries to deliberate intrusions that disrupt your daily life.

Understanding the legal implications and available options is essential in effectively addressing trespassing incidents.

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Law on Trespassers

In the United Kingdom, the law surrounding trespassing combines criminal and civil laws. While trespassing is generally considered a civil matter, certain circumstances may elevate it to a criminal offence. The trespasser’s actions and intent will determine the potential penalties they may face, ranging from fines to imprisonment in more severe cases.

As a landowner, you have certain rights and responsibilities when protecting your property. You can take specific steps to prevent and address trespassing incidents. Being aware of your rights and the legal options available to safeguard your property and maintain your privacy is crucial.

However, dealing with trespassers can be legally complex and emotionally challenging. That is why seeking the assistance of qualified housing solicitors is highly recommended.

Here at the London-based Adam Bernard’s law firm, we are home to highly experienced housing solicitors who can help you with issues related to trespassing.

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What is Trespassing?

Trespassing occurs when someone unlawfully enters or remains on your property without your permission or legal right.

Under the law, trespassing involves intentionally entering or staying on your private property without consent. This includes crossing boundaries, entering buildings, or even walking onto your land without authorization.

Behaviours that may qualify as trespassing include:

  • Unauthorized entry onto your property: If someone knowingly enters your property without your permission, it constitutes trespassing. This applies even if they claim ignorance of your property boundaries.
  • Disregarding posted signs or warnings: If you have clearly displayed signs indicating that your property is private or marked with “No Trespassing” signs, anyone who ignores these warnings and enters your land without permission is trespassing.
  • Failure to leave when asked: If you or your authorized representative asks someone to leave your property, and they refuse to do so, they are trespassing.
  • Unauthorized use of property: If someone uses your property, such as parking a vehicle or utilizing your facilities, without your consent or legal right, it can be considered trespassing.
  • Hunting or fishing without permission: Engaging in hunting or fishing activities on your land without obtaining the necessary permits or your explicit permission constitutes trespassing.

If you encounter trespassers on your property, it is advisable to contact law enforcement and document the incident for evidence. Depending on your jurisdiction, trespassing can result in penalties such as fines, criminal charges, or both.

You should also consult a knowledgeable housing solicitor who can provide legal guidance, help you understand your rights, and explore available options to address the situation effectively.

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Is Trespassing a Criminal Offence?

Trespassing is generally considered a civil matter but can escalate to a criminal offence in specific situations.

In criminal law, trespassing is the act of unlawfully entering or remaining on someone else’s property without permission or a lawful reason. It involves intentionally disregarding the owner’s rights and occupying the property without lawful authority.

The severity of trespassing as a criminal offence depends on various factors, such as the level of the trespasser’s intent, the degree of disruption caused, and whether any damage or harm was inflicted.

For example, suppose the trespasser engages in disruptive behaviour, such as damaging property or threatening the owner or other individuals present. The act can be treated as a more serious criminal offence in that case.

The penalties for criminal trespassing can vary based on the jurisdiction and the case’s specific circumstances. In some instances, it can result in fines, community service, or even imprisonment. Repeat offences or trespassing on specific properties, such as government premises or critical infrastructure, may attract more severe penalties.

What to do if I have Trespassers on my property?

If you have trespassers on your property, here are the steps you can take to address the situation and ensure the removal of the trespassers:

  • Assess the situation: Evaluate the number of trespassers, their activities, and any potential threats to your safety or property.
  • Verbal warning: Approach the trespassers calmly and assertively, informing them they are on private property without permission. Clearly state that they must leave immediately.
  • Document the trespass: Take photographs or videos of the trespassers and their activities as evidence if it is safe. Note any relevant details, such as dates, times, and descriptions of the trespassers.
  • Contact the authorities: If the trespassers refuse to leave or their presence poses a risk, contact the local police or law enforcement agency. Provide them with accurate information about the situation and any evidence you have gathered.
  • Obtain a civil injunction: You may consider seeking a civil injunction from the court, which is a legal order requiring the trespassers to leave your property and prohibiting their return. Consult a housing solicitor experienced in property law to assist you with the necessary legal processes.
  • Seek a Possession Order: If the trespassers continue disregarding your warnings and legal interventions, you can apply for a Possession Order through the civil court. This legal order grants you the right to regain possession of your property and remove the trespassers. It is essential to consult with a solicitor to navigate this process effectively.

Remember, every case of trespassing is unique. Consulting with a housing solicitor experienced in property law is highly recommended. Qualified solicitors can provide personalized legal advice based on the unique circumstances of your case.

Can The Police Help Me Remove Trespassers?

Under the provisions of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the police can indeed help, but certain conditions must be met:

  • Established presence: The police can intervene if the trespassers have established a residence on your land, such as setting up encampments or occupying buildings without permission.
  • Significant disruption: If the presence of trespassers causes significant disruption to your lawful use and enjoyment of the property, the police can take action.
  • Eviction notice: Before involving the police, it is advisable to serve a written eviction notice to the trespassers, giving them a reasonable period to vacate the premises. The notice should clearly state that their presence is illegal and that failure to leave may result in police involvement.
  • Proof of ownership: You must provide the police with evidence of your property ownership or lawful occupation. This can be in the form of property deeds, tenancy agreements, or other relevant documents that establish your rights.
  • Cooperation and safety: When requesting police assistance, it is essential to cooperate fully with the authorities and provide them with accurate information about the trespassers and the situation.
  • Balancing competing interests: The police must balance your rights as a property owner and the trespassers’ rights. They will assess the circumstances and act per their duty to uphold the law and maintain public order.

The police’s response may vary from case to case, depending on the resources available and other factors. In some cases, they may liaise with other agencies or take alternative courses of action, such as referring the matter to local authorities or recommending civil remedies.

Get in touch with our expert Common Law on Trespassing Solicitors today.

Action Through Civil Courts

When dealing with trespassers on your property, taking legal action through the civil courts can effectively regain possession and protect your rights as a property owner. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Filing a claim of possession: You can initiate proceedings by filing a claim of possession in the appropriate civil court. This involves submitting the necessary documents and evidence to demonstrate your legal right to the property and the trespasser’s unlawful occupation.
  • Court assistance: The court can play a vital role in helping you address the trespassing situation. They will carefully review the evidence and consider the circumstances before deciding. The court aims to protect your rights while ensuring fairness and compliance with the law.
  • Interim injunction: In urgent cases requiring immediate action, you can apply for an interim injunction. This is a court order that prohibits the trespassers from remaining on the property until the full hearing takes place. It provides temporary relief while the court evaluates the merits of your claim.
  • Possession Order: If the court determines that you have a valid claim and that the trespassers have no lawful right to be on the property, they may grant a Possession Order. This order instructs the trespassers to vacate the premises within a specified timeframe, usually 14 to 28 days.
  • Enforcement of the Possession Order: Once the Possession Order is granted, it is enforceable by court-appointed bailiffs. The bailiffs will coordinate the physical removal of the trespassers from your property if they fail to comply voluntarily. It is important to note that the court will consider factors such as the trespassers’ rights and any potential hardship they may face before taking enforcement action.
  • Legal representation: Engaging the services of an experienced solicitor specializing in property law is highly recommended when navigating the civil court process. They can guide you through the required legal procedures, help gather strong evidence, and advocate on your behalf during court hearings. Their expertise ensures that your case is presented effectively, increasing the chances of a favourable outcome.

By pursuing legal action through the civil courts, you can assert your rights as a property owner and seek a lawful resolution to the issue of trespassing. Working alongside a knowledgeable housing solicitor will support you in navigating the complexities of the legal process and achieving a successful outcome.

Why Hire a Trespassing Solicitor?

When dealing with trespassing issues on your property, hiring a skilled and experienced solicitor specializing in this area of law can significantly benefit you.

Here at the London-based Adam Bernard’s law firm, our housing solicitors understand the legal intricacies involved and provide personalized advice based on their expertise. If your case goes to court, we present your case with clarity and persuasiveness, highlighting the relevant legal principles and advocating for your rights.

Contact our housing lawyers today to discuss your case in detail.

Why Adam Bernard Solicitors?

  • Our team of solicitors are experts within this field with years of experience in handling the claims of clients.
  • We have achieved numerous successes for clients as evidenced through our client testimonies.
  • We offer competitive fees for our services to ensure that our clients have a payment plan that suits their needs.