There are approximately between 200,000 and 300,000 travellers living in the United Kingdom with around 60,000 who live in caravans on both authorised and unauthorised sites. If you do have problems with travellers then there are two options available to you, we outline these options and advise of which might be best depending on the circumstances.
Writ of possession for travellers
A writ of possession should be used if there is any chance that the eviction might be physically resisted or where you envisage violence or any issues with the eviction. Under a High Court writ of possession, the Police are required under the Courts Act to assist the Enforcement Agent. Once you have obtained judgment in the County Court, you can transfer enforcement to the High Court and obtain a writ of possession for £66; you must complete the necessary forms. There is no further notice required to be given to the travellers if you have obtained a writ of possession.
To evict under common law, you should use certified Enforcement Agents who will serve an eviction notice giving the trespassers 24 hours to move from your property. If after 24 hours has passed, the trespassers haven’t moved on, then you may proceed to evict them.
Halsburys Laws of England (Paragraph 1400, Volume 45, 4th Edition) states that:
If a trespasser peaceably enters or is on land, the person who is in or entitled to possession may request him to leave, and if he refuses to leave, remove him from the land using no more force than is reasonably necessary. This right is not ousted if the person entitled to possession has succeeded in an action at law for possession but chooses not to sue out his writ”
If the eviction is to remove travellers from a local authority owned site, then the Human Rights Act must be considered. Article 8 of the ECHR protects an individual’s right to home and family life.
There might also be children at the site, in which case there need to be liaison with social services to ensure they are taken care of and have access to appropriate services.
If there are horses or livestock present, you’ll also need to consider the logistics of their removal. You can find out more about livestock removal in this article.
David is an authorised High Court Enforcement Officer and our Director of Corporate Governance