A non-residential property is any building or land that isn’t designed to be lived in.
Simply being on another person’s non-residential property without their permission is not usually a crime. But if squatters commit other crimes when entering or staying in a property, the police can take action against them.
These crimes could include:
- causing damage when entering the property
- causing damage while in the property
- not leaving when they’re told to by a court
- stealing from the property
- using utilities like electricity or gas without permission
- not obeying a noise abatement notice
Getting your non-residential property back
If you own the property that has been squatted, you can use an interim possession order (IPO) to get your property back quickly.
If you follow the right procedure, you can usually get one issued by the courts within a few days.
To get final possession of the property, you must also make an application for possession when you apply for the IPO.
Use form N130 to apply for an interim possession order and for possession.
You can’t use an IPO if:
- you’re also making a claim for damages caused by the squatters - instead you can make an ordinary claim for possession
- more than 28 days have passed since you found out about the squatters
- you’re trying to evict former tenants, sub-tenants or licensees - instead see Private renting: evictions or Council and housing association evictions.
Once squatters are served with an IPO, they must leave the property within 24 hours. If they don’t, they’re committing a crime and could serve up to 6 months in prison.
It’s also a crime for them to return to the property within 12 months.
Squatters taking ownership of a property
It’s difficult and very rare for squatters to take ownership of a property. To do this, they would have to stay in a property without the owner’s permission for at least 10 years.