Eviction of Gypsies and Travellers by the council

Find out what action the council can take if it has asked you to leave a council-owned site and if there are steps you can take to stay.

Written agreements for official council sites

If you rent a pitch on an official council site, you should have been given a written occupancy agreement, setting out your rights when you moved in.

This is known as a written statement.

Security of tenure on an official council site

Your security of tenure on an official council site depends on whether you are living on a permanent site or a transit site.

Find out more about pitches on council sites.

Eviction from an official council site

The council is only able to evict you from a permanent official council site if it gets an order from the court.

The court only makes a possession order or allows the council to evict you if it is reasonable to make an order and one of the following situations apply:

  • you have breached a term of your agreement, and have not fixed this within a reasonable time, for example by falling into arrears with your pitch fees
  • you have seriously breached a term of your agreement, and it is something that can't be put right – for example you assaulted another resident on the site
  • you are not occupying the mobile home as your only or main residence
  • your mobile home is in such poor condition that it is having a negative effect on the rest of the site

Eviction from a council transit site

You can only stay for up to three months on an a council transit site.

If the council wants to evict you, it must normally give you four weeks' notice. It does not need to get a court order.

Eviction by the council from an unauthorised site

The council can evict you from land it owns that you're trespassing on.

It should take all circumstances into account before deciding whether to evict you.

It should take your welfare into account before moving you on.

Eviction by the council from a private site

Even if a landowner has given you permission to stay on their land, the council may be able to evict you if your camp doesn't have planning permission.

The council must first serve an enforcement notice or a stop notice ordering you to leave. If you don't comply with the notice, you may face a fine and even imprisonment for up to two years.

Either you or the landowner can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate if the council has issued an enforcement notice.

Find out more from Gov.uk about planning decision appeals.

For help and advice, contact a solicitor or a planning law expert, such as Planning Aid, who offer free advice on planning issues.

The council has the right to move you on if you lose your appeal but still don't leave.

Council powers to move Gypsies and Travellers

The council has wide-ranging powers to ask people to leave and remove any vehicles from land where they do not have permission to be there.

This includes:

  • situations where permission was once given but has since been withdrawn
  • where you are staying on an unauthorised site and have been asked by the council to move on
  • if you're camped on highways and other roads

The council also has the power to remove you if your camp is causing a public health hazard, for example because:

  • it doesn't have proper toilets
  • is polluting water supplies
  • rubbish is piling up

Council decisions about eviction

Only the courts have the power to evict you from an authorised council site.

The council has the power to move you on if you are living on a private or an unauthorised site.

Before moving you on, the council should take into account your welfare and the welfare of anyone else in your household.

This means that the council should consider its duties to:

  • look after the rights of any children in your household – by law, the council must provide assistance for 'children in need', which could include ensuring your children have accommodation, including accommodation on an appropriate site
  • provide education to all children of school age – for example, the council must consider whether your removal from the site will disrupt your children's education, or prevent them from being able to go to school
  • provide health and welfare services – the council may decide not to move you on if this means you won't be able to access health and welfare services
  • help homeless people – the council has a duty to do all it reasonably can to prevent homelessness, and to provide Gypsies and Travellers who are homelessness with a place to stay while it decides whether or not they are entitled to permanent housing. Again, this could include providing you with a site to stay on if you have nowhere else to go

In order to make a decision, an officer from the council must visit the site and talk to you about your situation. This will give you a chance to put forward your case, for example to tell the council that you have nowhere else to go, that your children are attending the local school or that you have health problems.

Get advice on what to say to the council. Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your local area.

Action by the council to move on Gypsies and Travellers

If the council decides that you need to be moved, it gives you a removal direction. This requires you to move on as soon as you're practically able to.

Use the Legal Adviser Finder to find legal help in your local area.

The council usually employs bailiffs to carry out the removal. The police can also attend, but they only get involved to prevent a breach of the peace.

You are committing a criminal offence if the council directs you to move on, and you don't leave, unless you have applied for judicial review and are awaiting the decision.

Complain about the council

You can make an official complaint if you don't think the council has taken all issues into account before deciding to move you on. 

Use the council's complaints procedure and contact a solicitor or law centre as soon as possible. A solicitor can help you challenge the council's decision.

For example, they may be able to apply for a judicial review of the decision or get an injunction preventing the council from moving you on.

Advice and information for Gypsies and Travellers on eviction by the council

If you need help with legal or other issues, find a solicitor using the Legal Adviser Finder or use Shelter's directory to find a local advice centre.

Other organisations that can provide advice and assistance for members of the Gypsy and Traveller communities include:


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