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Definition of a squatter

This content applies to England

The distinction between squatters (or 'trespassers') and former tenants/licensees.

A squatter is a person who enters and occupies property without permission from the person entitled to possession of the property. That person could be an owner, tenant or licensee.

The term ‘trespasser’ is used to describe someone who has no legal right to occupy premises.  The term ‘squatter’ has no legal meaning, but is used to distinguish trespassers who have never had a right to occupy the premises from those former tenants and licensees who had become trespassers when their tenancy or licence ended.

The distinction is important because many of the procedures discussed in this section that are available to evict or arrest squatters cannot be used against other trespassers. Possession claims against trespassers under Part 55 of the Civil Procedure Rules can, however, be used against former licensees (see the page on Claims against trespassers for more information). See the section on Basic protection/excluded occupiers for information about the rights of licensees.

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