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Double trouble when a property legacy is blighted by a squatter

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Early in October 2017 Tony Irving, our head of dispute resolution, was contacted by a local lady from Watford who had inherited her father’s home in Surrey. 

It had taken several months to obtain probate, as her father had not left a will, and since her father had passed away earlier in the year the house had become occupied by a squatter.  On her behalf, Tony issued the appropriate legal notices to the squatter telling him to leave the property.

As if the need to remove a squatter was not enough of a problem to our bereaved client, she was then astounded to receive a letter from the housing department of the local authority with a Statutory Improvement Notice demanding that all sorts of works to be carried out to the house at significant cost and threatening dire consequences if they were not.

The squatter, who had caused the damage to the property, had the temerity to go to the housing department claiming to be a tenant and therefore entitled to certain rights including an improvement in his living conditions.

However, when Tony visited the local authority offices in Surrey to check the tenancy agreement he showed that it was a forgery - the squatter was rumbled!

Later in October, Hancock Quins appealed to the Residential Property Tribunal against the local authority who were persuaded to withdraw their statutory notice – relieving our client of the obligation to spend significant sums on the property.

Then in late November, we started County Court proceedings against the squatter and his friends, and in early December we obtained a possession order on behalf of our client.

This meant that the squatter was obliged to quit the property, which he did immediately.  Although this was a sad and difficult year for our client, she has been able to start 2018 afresh and put these problems behind her.

For more advice about any disputes which relate to inheritance problems or property issues, please contact Tony Irving in Watford on 01923 650853 or email

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss because of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.