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Eviction from a site: Gypsy and Traveller communities

Your rights depend on if you are facing eviction from:

  • a permanent or transit site

  • an unauthorised encampment

  • your own land

You can ask the council for help even if it's the council evicting you. They can give you advice on your housing options and could give practical help.

You count as homeless if you have nowhere to legally park your home and live in it.

Permanent sites

You can only be evicted from a permanent site owned by a council or a private site owner if:

  1. You broke a term of your pitch licence.

  2. The site owner gave you notice of this and a reasonable time to put things right.

  3. A court decides it is reasonable to make an eviction order.

Reasons you could face eviction

You're at risk of eviction if, for example, you: 

  • behave antisocially

  • fail to pay the pitch fees

  • do not maintain your caravan or mobile home

You also risk eviction if you do not use the mobile home as your main residence. But most council sites will allow you to travel in your caravan for several weeks each year.

There is a possession hearing where the court listens to both sides. You can attend with a solicitor or legal representative. 

Transit sites

Some councils provide authorised transit sites. If you get a pitch on a transit site, you can stay there in your mobile home for up to 3 months. 

The council can end your right to stay on the site without a court order by giving you 4 weeks' written notice. They do not need to give a reason.

They can also end your right to stay on the site if you break the terms of your agreement. They must give you notice of what you've done and a reasonable time to put things right.

Unauthorised encampments

An unauthorised encampment means parking up and living in your caravan in a place where you do not have legal permission to do so, including:

  • roads, verges and laybys

  • forests, parks and wasteland

  • farmland and other private land

You'll probably be told to move on by a police officer or council worker. You may be told to move to a transit site in the area. 

Negotiated stopping

In a few areas, you could come to a negotiated stopping agreement as an alternative to moving on immediately. 

This means that you agree to simple terms such as not lighting fires or leaving waste on the land. And the council agree to a temporary stay, typically up to a month.

Speak to a Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer at the council.

Removal directions and orders

If you do not move on when asked to do so, the council or police might:

  1. Give you a formal direction to leave the land.

  2. Apply for a removal order in the magistrates' court.      

The council and police should consider the needs of any children on site before giving a formal direction to leave.

Failure to leave an unauthorised encampment after a formal direction is a criminal offence. You could be arrested and fined or have your vehicle seized.

You may have a defence if you can show you could not move on due to illness, mechanical breakdown or another emergency.

Eviction from your own land

There is a shortage of authorised permanent and transit sites in all areas. 

If you've bought your own land to get around this problem, you need planning permission and a site licence to park a caravan there and live in it. 

If you do not have planning permission and a site licence, the council can take legal action to prevent you or others from living on the land.

The council can:

  1. Give you an enforcement notice.

  2. Apply for a court injunction to remove you from the land. 

You can usually continue to live on your land unless the council takes enforcement action. This is called a 'tolerated' unauthorised development.

Specialist help and advice

You can get more advice for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities from the following organisations:

Last updated: 23 November 2022

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