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A Legal Update for Property Owners Worried About Trespass

View profile for Jonathan Flynn
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In March this year  new rules were introduced that, effectively, halted property owners’ powers to obtain possession of residential and commercial property by way of Court proceedings. This Practice Direction (Practice Direction 51Z) was put in place because of the COVID-19 crisis.

Practice Direction 51Z had the effect of  pausing all existing possession proceedings by 90 days, up until 25 June 2020. In addition enforcement of any possession order already obtained was automatically paused until the same time. 

This Practice Direction has now been revised and provided a number of exclusions. The exclusions include:

  • A claim for possession against trespassers to which CPR 55.6 applies
  • An application for an Interim Possession Order (IPO) under Section III of CPR 55
  • An application for case management directions which are agreed by all the parties
  • Claims for injunctive relief

So, property owners do have options when it comes to dealing with trespassers. This is important, especially in the current climate where more properties are vacant. Proprietors should be extra vigilant about securing vacant property at the moment.  

If there is a trespass and it falls within the above exceptions, then the owner is entitled to issue a trespass claim. The avenues available to the proprietor will include the standard trespass claim and potentially an interim possession order. Here is some useful information on IPOs.

Whilst some restrictions have been lifted the question does arise about how the Courts will deal with claims against trespassers.  The County Court is currently prioritising some work above other work and it is not clear where trespass work would sit. However, injunctions fall within the prioritised work, so, depending on the relief sought in the proceedings the Courts should consider trespass claims as priority work.   Hearings are likely to be conducted by telephone.

As far as residential tenancies are concerned, whilst possession claims have been stayed, they can still be issued at Court. So, whilst a possession hearing will not be listed until the stay has ended it is sensible for a landlord to seek legal advice and issue a claim as early as possible, if the relevant notice has already been served and has expired.

The  law changes may seem unclear and whilst you may not feel that you are ready or in a position to take action, we would always recommend speaking to us for some initial advice as there could be more you could be doing now than you may think.


Jonathan Flynn is an Associate Solicitor in our Property Litigation team and has experience in dealing with a wide range of property disputes. For further support, contact Jonathan by email on jonathan.flynn@jcpsolicitors.co.uk.

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