What to Do if You Find Illegal Occupants in Your Property

  • Unlawful occupants are commonly referred to as ‘squatters’; they have no legal right to be on the property.
  • Causes of informal settlers include poverty, lack of affordable housing options, evictions, and seeking better economic opportunities.
  • When faced with illegal occupants on your property, it is important to assess the situation, seek legal advice and serve a legal notice.
  • Take legal advice and follow the correct procedures for serving notice and pursuing legal action if necessary.
  • Secure your property with new locks, cameras and/or an alarm system. Hire a security guard to keep watch over the property during regular hours.

Discovering that someone has been occupying your property without your knowledge or approval can be distressing. Illegal occupants are a nuisance and can pose a security risk to you and your neighbors. However, it is essential to handle the situation responsibly and lawfully. This article will outline steps you can take if you discover illegal occupants on your property.

What are Informal Settlers

Informal settlers are individuals or families who have established homes on land they do not legally own without permission or a formal lease from the owner. These settlers may have constructed makeshift dwellings using whatever materials are available, often without access to essential utilities and sanitation services.

Informal settlements can be found in urban and rural areas and are often the result of rapid population growth, poverty, and limited affordable housing options. While some argue that informal settlers contribute to urban blight and property damage, others note that they are often victims of systemic poverty and urbanization and may lack viable alternatives to living in informal settlements.

What are the Causes of Informal Settlers

Illegal settlers are a result of a complex array of circumstances and factors. These individuals may have been evicted and left without anywhere else to go, often ending up in temporary shelters like refugee camps or informal settlements. Some may be seeking better economic opportunities, unable to make ends meet in their home countries due to poverty or lack of employment.

Others are travelers who choose your property as a temporary campground, often without malicious intent. Sometimes, people may live on your property due to mental health or addiction issues.

Sadly, the process of eviction of squatters and travelers can be arduous and time-consuming. The practical steps in removing illegal occupants from your property will depend on the laws of your state or country, so it’s essential to be aware of these legal considerations before taking action.

What to Do When You Discover Informal Settlers

If you discover that someone has been occupying your property without your permission or knowledge, it’s important to handle the situation responsibly and legally.

Evaluate the Situation

PI in the car taking photos

The first step is to assess the situation. Determine how many people are occupying your property and how long they have been there. Try to obtain relevant information, such as their names, contact information, and employment details. You can also take pictures or videos of the occupants, especially if you have concerns about potential damage or occupancy issues.

Contact a Lawyer

It is advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible. A lawyer can advise you on your rights and options for removing illegal occupants from your property. They can also help you serve the correct legal documents and pursue legal action if necessary.

Serve Legal Notice

Once you have obtained legal advice, you can serve a legal notice to the illegal occupants. The information should list why they must vacate your property and give them a reasonable time frame. Depending on your local laws, this can range from a few days to a few weeks,. Ensure that you serve the notice in person and the presence of a witness.

Speak to the Police

If the illegal occupants refuse to vacate your property after the legal notice has been served, you may need to involve the police. They can escort the occupants off your property and ensure the situation is resolved safely. However, it is essential to do this lawfully and with a court order if necessary.

Secure your Property

hand in gloves putting a lock

Once you have successfully removed the illegal occupants, it is vital to secure your property to prevent it from happening again. Change the locks and ensure that all entrances and exits are secure. You can also install security cameras or an alarm system to deter unwanted visitors. If possible, hire a security guard to watch the property regularly.

Final Thoughts

Finding illegal occupants on your property can be stressful and frustrating. However, following these steps can resolve the situation safely and lawfully. Remember to take legal advice and follow the correct procedures for serving notice and pursuing legal action if necessary. Finally, take steps to secure your property to prevent future occurrences.

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