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Eviction of travellers or gypsies on private land

If you are staying on a privately run Gypsy/Traveller site, your rights will depend on what kind of site it is, and whether it is a protected site, with planning permission and site licence. This page explains your rights. This page also looks at your rights if you're parked on private land without permission from the owner.

You can find out more about the differences between protected and unprotected sites for gypsies' and travellers' housing rights.

Eviction from a protected site

People who live on a protected site have many more rights than residents who live on an unprotected site, including more protection against eviction. The pages on eviction from a mobile home explain what you can do if the site owner tries to move you on.

Eviction from an unprotected site

If you're staying on an unprotected site, that is, a site that doesn't have planning permission and a site licence, you won't have many rights, and the site owner will be able to evict you fairly easily. You should have some rights as a common law tenant who's being evicted, including the right to at least four weeks' notice, but you may find this hard to enforce.

Eviction from an authorised site on private land

If you park up on private land without consent, the owner or legal occupier (for example, a tenant) can take steps to evict you.

Bear in mind that the owner may not even be aware that you're there unless they receive complaints about your encampment. It may be worth contacting the landowner and discussing the situation with them - if your camp is not causing any problems and they don't need the land for anything else, they may be happy for you to stay.

If the landowner or occupier does decide to evict you, they may:

  • apply to the court for an interdict or possession order requiring you to move off the land
  • ask the council to take action
  • ask the police to take action
  • move you on themselves.

Eviction because of a possession order

If you're camped on private land without the owner's permission, the landowner or occupier can apply to the sheriff court for an eviction order to remove you from their land. If this is the case, you'll be sent a court document called a Summary Cause Summons, telling you when your case will be heard in court.

If you receive a summons, get advice from a solicitor or law centre straightaway. Your local Citizens Advice may be able to put you in touch with a solicitor who can help you. Because you are trespassing on the owner's land, you won't have any defence when the case comes to court, but a solicitor may be able to help you delay the eviction on humanitarian grounds, for example, if you can't move on because someone in your household is ill.

If the sheriff grants an eviction order, you will have to move on.

Eviction because of an interdict

An interdict is a civil court order that tells you not to do something or to stay away from a certain person or place.

If the landowner applies for an interdict, you'll be sent court papers explaining what the interdict requires you to do. For example, you may be sent an interdict ordering you to move off the owner's land, or preventing you from moving onto it in the first place.

When you receive these papers, get in touch with a solicitor or law centre straightaway. Your local Citizens Advice may be able to put you in touch with a solicitor who can help you. You may be able to defend the action in court - your solicitor will be able to help you with this. The court should take into account your situation before granting the interdict. For example, the sheriff may not grant an interdict if it will cause you and your household great hardship.

If the interdict is granted and you don't stick to the terms (for example, you don't move off the owner's land), the police might be able to arrest you if the interdict gives them the power to do so. If the owner can prove that you've broken the terms of the interdict, you may face a fine or even imprisonment.

Eviction by the council

The council has the power to move you on if the owner doesn't have planning permission for a site on their land, or if your site is causing a public health hazard. Read the page on eviction by the council to find out more about this.

Eviction by the police

As a last resort, the police can be called in. Read the page on eviction by the police to find out more.

Eviction by the landowner

It's not illegal for a landowner to evict you without getting a court order. However, if they cause any damage to your vehicles or property, or if they injure you in any way, you can report them to the police and they may face charges. In this situation, it's important to get as much evidence as possible to back up your case, for example, by taking photographs or filming the incident on your mobile. You can find out more about reporting incidents to the police at the Victims of Crime in Scotland website.

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The important points

  • People who live on a protected site have many more rights than residents who live on an unprotected site.
  • If you park up on private land without consent, the owner or legal occupier can take steps to evict you.
  • If you're camped on private land without permission, the landowner or occupier can apply to the sheriff court for an eviction order to remove you from their land.
  • It's not illegal for a landowner to evict you without getting a court order. However, if they cause any damage to your property, or if they injure you, you can report them to the police.

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