Your vacant property is at risk. Having made the financial investment in the property, the last thing you need is squatters taking up residence in it when it is left empty. Once squatters have got into your property, it can be a costly and lengthy process to get them out. We look at the risks and how to prevent it happening.

We’ve heard of the damage that squatters can do if they take over a building. How much of a risk is there?

There is a very real risk of squatters getting in and the issue is getting more serious. You might not think it matters but it really does. The process of getting them out far outweighs the cost of preventing them getting in. The risk is not just the illegal entry to the property, but the damage that is done and the cost of refurishment, to say nothing of utility bills and the anxiety it would cause you.

What kinds of property are vulnerable to squatters?

Since 1st September 2012, it has been illegal to squat in domestic properties, so it is business and commercial premises that are now more vulnerable and likely to be targeted. Because these buildings are larger, you tend to get many more squatters.

How easy is the process to remove squatters?

There are methods that can be used to remove squatters without having to go through the courts. Although, as the squatters have got cleverer these methods have proved more difficult. As a company we have had considerable success removing squatters with the help of the police by showing evidence of Criminal Damage and extraction of electricity. Unfortunately if these methods donot work owners are faced with expensive legal and bailiff charges as court eviction orders need to be passed and exercised. Veritas is able to implement and oversee these processes if required.

What steps do you advise to prevent squatters entering a vacant property?

The right security is essential, Veritas carry out free no obligation security reviews to advise clients on appropriate security measures where required. Our view is it is always best to fully secure a property with shuttering as well as monitor it with a Vacant Property Alarm System. Should squatters still manage to gain entry we would look to make the property inhabitable internally by decommissioning the water and electricity supply making the premises uncomfortable to live in.

What are the potential costs of having squatters in your premises?

Landlords, you can be held liable if a squatter injures themselves. You need to be confident that all equipment and potential hazards in the property have either been decommissioned or the risks have been reduced. Of course, there are insurance implications too.

What’s your final advice on the subject of squatters?

Veritas would always conduct a risk assessment and implement the right security measures on any vacant property: make sure it is secure and prevent squatters gaining access in the first place. If you have to leave your premises empty, take steps to prevent squatters taking up residence. Veritas Maintenance and Security offers a full range of property management services and advice that can help you to prepare for this and a variety of other issues. Residential and commercial property services include: security, clearing/cleaning, maintenance and refurbishment.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help with your property management requirements. Call us for a chat on 01249 848344, or email office@veritasmanagement.co.uk.