England and Wales
In order to legally remove squatters, property owners must apply for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) within 28 days of discovering that their property is being squatted in. Once confirmation of the IPO has been made, the court will provide documents that must be served on the squatters within 48 hours. If squatters have not left within 24 hours of being served an IPO - or if they return within 12 months - they can be sent to prison. Following an IPO, the property owner must then make a claim for possession.
If they have missed the 28-day deadline for an IPO application, they will need to make a claim for possession in the first instance (which can slow things down).
In order to legally remove squatters, property owners must bring a Summary Cause action in their local Sheriff Court. The property owner can bring a claim against a person in possession of property without any rights or titles with regards to the property. There is no need to name the squatters as such an action can be brought against an unnamed occupier.
The Summary Cause action requires a hearing before a sheriff as it allows for a shortened notice period, which is granted at the sheriff’s sole discretion. Where the reduced notice period (often 48 hours) is granted, the sheriff clerk will assign a return date (the date by which the squatter must give written notice of any proposed defence) and calling date (the date of the second hearing - usually given as a few days after the return date).
The sheriff officers will then, before the return date, serve the summons on the squatter by affixing a copy of the summons at the entrance, exit and middle of the property. The hearing will then take place on the calling date, and a sheriff may grant a decree. At the discretion of the sheriff, such a decree may be granted immediately (known as an ‘immediate extract’), which allows a sheriff officer to evict the squatter immediately (without having to wait for 14 days).