It’s 4:30 am on a quiet British summer night. Everyone is sound asleep. You are awoken suddenly by a loud bang. You rise from your bed in your Grade II listed home in Central London.
What could the sound be? Before you know it, intruders are coming in, a big group of them, through the window. You panic.
Before you know it, you are face-to-face with a team of highly trained special forces personnel. They tell you sternly that it’s time to pack your things and go. Then you admit to yourself that it’s not really your home. You are a squatter, and the landlord has come to take back what is rightfully theirs.
Squatters’ rights or squatters’ wrongs
Every landlord that’s dealt with problem tenants has probably fantasised about forcibly removing them from the premises. For the owners of this Grade II luxury property in the Central London area of Bloomsbury, they did just that. Bailiffs hired a special group consisting of veterans of the military, fire and police services to empty the property. On the day of reckoning, former special forces operatives abseiled down the grade II building, giving those living there the shock of their lives.
Peter Faulding, 59, a Parachute Regiment veteran who founded the company, said that although the raid may have seemed dramatic, the focus was on the safety of the inhabitants: “This wasn’t about going in hard — it was about making sure people didn’t get injured, that’s what we are about.”
The team’s main concern was preventing squatters from getting to the roof or balcony, “You just have to be caring and treat everyone the same, give them a smile and help them safely get out. We’ve never had any problems as a result.” Faulding said.
Removing illegal squatters the right way
Removing squatters from a property is a difficult situation that has to be dealt with carefully. Faulding’s company, based in Dorking, Surrey, was hired for the operation a few weeks ago, and the team rehearsed the plan in similar conditions. The ex-paratrooper said “We were brought in by the bailiffs because we deal with situations other people can’t. This incident was a private removal, but I’ve dealt with every major protest since the Newbury bypass protests in 1995.”.
Faulding, known in military circles as ‘the human mole’ for his work in confined spaces, said the aim was not to go in “hard”. Instead, he added that the best approach is to offer those being evicted a cup of coffee and to be compassionate. The building, constructed in 1887 for the College of Preceptors, was said to have been completely ‘trashed’ by the squatters, who had been there since May.
If you need advice regarding appropriate tenant eviction procedures, speak with your commercial insurance executive who will be able to access risk management and guidance documentation from our content library, which is made available to Plan clients free of charge.