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What is the Difference Between Removing a Trespasser and Eviction?

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From our heritage as Sheriffs we have developed our property services for the benefit of our community so they have a one-stop shop of protection.

If you’re an owner of a property in England or Wales and if your property is occupied by trespassers or anyone who does not have a right to be on the property, you can apply to the court for a possession order. You simply want to get rid of them as quickly as you can with minimum hassles.

The UK housing crisis, combined with a scarcity of legal traveller sites, has resulted in a huge increase in the number of travellers establishing illicit encampments. Under English and Welsh common law, you have the right to expel travellers from your land. You can go to court to do so, but it is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Shergroup can fix the problem by acting on your behalf and removing trespassers from your property. When we receive written authorisation from you, our eviction experts will swiftly move the gipsies, usually vacating the site within 24 hours.

When travellers establish up camp on council land, the council has the authority to evict them; however, if the encampment is on private land, it is completely the landlord’s duty.

While the government advises local governments to seek a court order to remove trespassers from land owned or controlled by the local government, private landowners have more options. They can still go to court and get an order for possession, then transfer it to the High Court to get a writ of possession enforced by High Court Enforcement Officers, or they can apply the traditional remedy of Common Law.

In fact, under Common Law, the proprietor can get a court injunction while still choosing to remove the trespassers. According to Halsbury’s Laws of England (Paragraph 1400, Volume 45, 4th Edition),

If a trespasser enters your land using peaceably entry and is on your land, you can request him to leave the property. If the trespasser refuses to leave then, you can remove him from the property using no more than reasonable force. 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.”

Use of Reasonable Force

As the landlord of the property, you must first ask the trespasser to leave the land. If he refuses, the landowner can then remove the trespassers “using no more force than is reasonably necessary”.

However, if the trespasser enters with force and violence, then the landowner can remove them without having previously asked them to leave.

Certificated Bailiffs

While the landowner can handle the eviction himself, in most circumstances the landowner or his agent would hire a Certificated Bailiff.


The benefits of this include that the Certificated Bailiff will be familiar with the applicable law and procedure and will operate in accordance with it. Before and during the eviction, he will also know how to complete a risk assessment and follow health and safety procedures. Finally, he will have the required resources and personnel to carry out the eviction.

Police involvement

The Department for Communities and Local Government’s (formerly The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister’s or ODPM) Guidance on Managing Unauthorised Camping (February 2004) recommends that the police be notified of an eviction and called in to stand by to prevent a breach of the peace, and that if the police advise that it is inappropriate to carry out an eviction, it should always be delayed until an agreed time. A landowner who disregards police advice may be liable for damages if the eviction results in an attack, injury, or damage to a person or property.

Under section 61 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, the police can instruct trespassers to leave land if the landowner has made reasonable steps to ask them to leave and two or more individuals are intending to live on the land. Any one of three additional requirements must be met:

  • if any of those persons has caused damage to the land or property on the land; or
  • used threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour towards the occupier, a member of his family or an employee or agent of his; or
  • those persons have between them six or more vehicles on the land



Shergroup uses their highly experienced eviction officers who know how to appropriately manage an eviction situation. We begin by serving the travellers with an eviction notice. This usually gives them until the next day to leave the location on their own.

Our bailiffs will conduct a risk assessment when they visit the location to serve notices. This allows us to plan the best resources if an eviction is necessary.

At Shergroup we understand the problems that can incur on the site and our trained officers know how to deal with cases effectively. We ensure that traveller groups are evicted from your site quickly and using the correct resources.

We work with local agencies, such as the police department, to ensure that illegal encampments are removed quickly and peacefully. We can typically be on-site within hours of receiving instructions and have the site cleared the same day.

If you have problems with travellers on your land, contact Shergroup today.

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Last updated | 19 July 2023

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