Eviction of Gypsy and Traveller people

Council evictions of Gypsy and Traveller people

The council has the power to remove anyone who lives in a vehicle and does not have permission to be on the land they're parked on.

Before the council can evict you

Before the council makes a decision, a council officer must visit the Gyspy and Traveller community site to talk about your situation.

You can explain why the eviction will damage your household’s welfare. For example, if removal from the site will disrupt your children's education.

The council should consider its duties to:

Preventing an eviction by the council

An eviction could be prevented if the council do not consider their duties.

Get help if you're facing eviction. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser or Citizens Advice.

If the council decides to evict you

You will be sent a ‘notice to quit’ or ‘removal direction’. If you do not leave when asked to do so, the council will have the right to move you on from the site.

The council do not need to get a court order to make you leave the site. However, eviction without a court order may be against your human rights.

A solicitor can look into this and help defend your case if it goes to court.

If the eviction is granted sheriff officers carry out the eviction. The police may be present but they should not get involved unless it’s necessary.

Get legal help

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Get legal help for free or at a lower cost from a law centre.

Eviction from an authorised council site

Your written occupancy agreement should say how much eviction notice must be given. This must be at least four weeks.

The council may ask you to leave sooner if you have broken the terms of your agreement. A housing professional may be able to argue that it's illegal to evict you without enough notice.

Get help if you're facing eviction. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser or Citizens Advice.

Eviction from an unauthorised council site

Unauthorised sites are not licensed, do not have planning permission, and are not run by the council.

The council should not evict you from an unauthorised site on council-owned land unless:

  • your presence is causing serious problems, for example, a public health hazard

  • the council needs the land for something else

Eviction from a protected private site

If you're parked on a protected site, there's a legal process the site owner must follow in order to evict you.

You can only be evicted if:

  • the site owner's lease has expired

  • planning permission for the site has expired

  • you have broken a condition of your agreement

  • you are not using the mobile home as your only or main home

  • the condition of your mobile home is having a detrimental effect on the site

You must be served with at least four weeks' notice.

If you have not left once the notice has expired, the site owner has to get an order from the sheriff court before you can be forced to leave.

You can ask a solicitor to defend your case in court.

Get legal help

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Get legal help for free or at a lower cost from a law centre.

Find out more about eviction from a protected site.

Get help if you're facing eviction. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser or Citizens Advice.

Eviction from an unprotected private site

It's very difficult to prevent an eviction from an unprotected private site without planning permission and a site licence.

If you rent a pitch on an unprotected private site, you have common law eviction rights. Your notice must be at least four weeks.

If you have been given the correct notice but do not leave when it runs out, the landlord or site owner can apply to the sheriff court for an order telling you to leave.

Find out about eviction from an unprotected site.

Eviction from private land without planning permission

The council can move you on if the landowner or occupier does not have planning permission for a site. This includes land owned by the Gyspy and Traveller community.

If you do not comply with the ‘enforcement notice’ or ‘stop notice’ that orders you to leave, you may face a fine and prison.

Before serving any notices

The council can send an officer to visit your camp. This is to see whether any planning laws have been broken.

It’s a criminal offence to stop the officer from visiting the land. If you try to stop them you could be fined.

Appealing notices

Residents or the landowner can appeal against an enforcement notice.

A stop notice cannot be appealed.

For free help and advice on planning issues, contact Planning Aid for Scotland.

If you do not move on

Refusing to comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence. You may face a fine and prison.

If you do not move on, the council will usually get sheriff officers to carry out the removal. The police may be present but they should not get involved unless it’s necessary.

Get help if you're facing eviction. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser or Citizens Advice.

Eviction for antisocial behaviour

The council should not evict an entire group of Gypsy and Traveller people because of the behaviour of individuals.

If this is happening, you can talk to the site manager, Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer, or another council representative.

Eviction if you park up without consent

If you park up on private land with planning permission but you do not have consent to be there, the owner or legal occupier can:

Possession order explained

The landowner or occupier can apply to the sheriff court for an eviction order to remove you from their land.

Because you are trespassing, you will not have any defence when the case goes to court.

Interdict explained

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

The court should take into account your household’s welfare before granting an interdict.

Legal help

A solicitor may be able to help you delay the eviction on humanitarian grounds. For example, if you cannot move on because someone in your household is ill.

Get legal help

Find a solicitor from the Law Society of Scotland or the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Get legal help for free or at a lower cost from a law centre.

Police evictions of Gypsy and Traveller people

The police can only remove you if the landowner, occupier, or council have already tried to move you on.

The police can remove you and your vehicles if:

  • there are two or more people staying on land without the owner's permission, and

  • you have parked six or more vehicles on the land, or

  • you have damaged the site or land in some way, or

  • you have behaved in an antisocial way towards the landowner or occupier or their family

The police must consider:

  • the consequences of moving you on

  • the consequences if you stay put

  • whether everyone on the site needs to be moved

  • the site's history, for example, how long the site has been used by the Gypsy and Traveller community

If you do not think they've done this, contact a solicitor.

If you do not move on

If you do not leave within the time you're given or you return to the land within three months, you'll be committing a criminal offence.

You may be fined or face prison. The police will have the right to tow your vehicles.

Get help if you're facing eviction. Contact a Shelter Scotland adviser or Citizens Advice.

Last updated: 5 October 2021

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England

Get homeless help from the council

The council must help if you are homeless or likely to become homeless in the next two months.

Get emergency help from the council