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adverse occupation


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Occupation of premises by a trespasser to the exclusion of the owner or lawful occupier. Trespass in itself is not usually a criminal offence, but if the premises are residential and were being occupied, the trespasser (whether or not he used force in order to enter) is guilty of an offence under the Criminal Law Act 1977 if he refuses to leave when asked to do so by the displaced residential occupier or a protected intending occupier (or by someone acting on behalf of them). A protected intending occupier includes a purchaser, someone let in by the local authority, Housing Corporation, or a housing association with written evidence of his claim to the premises, or someone holding a lease, tenancy, or licence with two years to run. Under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, such a person may obtain an interim possession order. This differs from an ordinary possession order in that it is much quicker, may be heard in the absence of those on the property, and involves the police in enforcement. Once the proper procedure has been followed and the applicant has shown a good case for possession, an order will require those on the land to leave within 24 hours. Remaining on the premises or re-entry within 12 months is a summary offence, punishable by a fine on level 5 and/or six months' imprisonment. A uniformed constable has a power of arrest. It is also an offence to make false or misleading statements in making or resisting such an order. Similar penalties apply on summary conviction, but on indictment a maximum of two years' imprisonment and/or a fine may be imposed.

Usually it is a summary offence for a stranger or the landlord to use violence to gain entry to premises when it is known that there is someone on those premises opposed to such an entry. However, a displaced residential occupier or a protected intending occupier who has asked the person to leave may call on the police for assistance. A police constable may arrest anyone who refuses to leave for the summary offence of adverse occupation of residential premises. Furthermore, it is not an offence if a constable, a displaced residential occupier, or a protected intending occupier (or their agents) uses force to secure entry. See forcible entry.

Subjects: Law.


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