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How to remove travellers from your property

Landowners in rural areas run the risk of itinerant groups known as travellers setting up camp illegally on their property. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this problem.

Unless the travellers make themselves a public nuisance, the police are unlikely to become directly involved in their eviction.

This leaves two legal routes open to the landowner. One of them is quicker than the other, but both are expensive.

Tell the travellers that they are trespassing on private property, identify yourself as the owner and politely ask them to leave. Don't deviate from this simple statement, as any discussions you might have with them regarding staying overnight and so on might be interpreted as you giving them permission to stay. Keep your temper and don't personally attempt to remove them or their property.

Make detailed notes on the travellers. Jot down the time of their appearance on your land, any names you have learnt or overheard, any license plate numbers and general information about the numbers of people and vehicles involved. If the travellers have not vacated your premises, you now have two legal avenues, as laid out in the following steps.

Seek what is known as a “possession order” from the County Court. You will need to supply the information you collected in the previous step, sign a claim form to bear witness that they are on your property without your permission, and you will also need proof that you own the land – the title or deeds if you are the outright owner or a rental agreement if you are a tenant. For the landowner, the advantage of going down this route is that he places the matter entirely in the hands of the authorities. The disadvantage is that the process of eviction can take from a fortnight to a month, and longer if the travellers challenge the order. It is also expensive. In 2010, a county court application cost in the region of £700 to £1,000 in legal fees, plus £150 for the application itself and £95 for the bailiff's fees.

Evict the travellers under Common Law. To do this, you can employ a bailiff to serve the eviction notice and to use reasonable force in seeing it carried out – this usually involves returning with tow trucks to physically remove the travellers' vehicles. When employing a bailiff, you'll need to fill out a claim form stating that you are the owner or legal tenant, that the travellers are on your land without your permission and giving all the information you collected about them in Step 2. When the eviction occurs, you'll need to notify the police so that they can be present and thus ensure that both sides abide by the law. An eviction under Common Law can be a much speedier process than one through the County Court. However, it is also likely to be expensive. In 2010, one large firm of bailiffs were charging £495 per visit, plus £200 for towing charges. If you do go down this route, it is also important to employ an experienced bailiff who is competent to act within the vague legal phrase “reasonable force.”