Amusing Tales

Today I got rid of Squatters from my London Flat!!!

Today was meant to be a quiet day as I had paperwork to catch up on…it ended up being far more exciting!!

 11am the phone rings and it’s the estate agent who are selling our flat in London. She had been round the flat this morning with the buyer to measure up for his furniture and stuff as we are due to complete next month. 

“Sam”, she says “I couldn’t get into the flat – have you changed the locks?”

 Me: “No, why would I do that you have all the keys and you need access”

“Well” She says “I just wondered if you had a friend staying or had let it for a short while as there was a bed in there and some groceries on the kitchen worktop” 

“WHAT????” I reply

“OH” she is clearly taken aback “So you haven’t got a friend staying?”

“OH MY GOD”  I reply. “Right, I’ll get down there now”

I put down the phone and think SHIT!!!! What am i going to do?? In that moment I realised I had squatters!  I called a couple of friends who are in property to get their thoughts – no-one had dealt with squatters, but they were all clearly concerned at my situation.

I decided that I would go to the property and get rid of them! 

I called a locksmith and a security company so that I could shutter the property once I had access. I explained the situation to all of them and I could tell from their tone of voice they were not hopeful at my chances of success – all of them told me the cancellation charges if the job didn’t go ahead  – that is – if I couldn’t get rid of the squatters.

I made the 2 hour trip to the flat (London traffic being what it is!). En route I got a friend to google about squatters rights and what could be done. In the meantime I had another one of my friends calling me begging me not to go:

“Sam, what if they’re all high on drugs and they try and stab you – no property is worth that”

She was right, but I chose not to listen and I told her as much.

I arrived at the property at 2pm. From the front I saw the kitchen windows were open…SHIT!

I didn’t have the security fob to get in the front, so I went round the back and let myself in the garden. All the windows were open…DOUBLE SHIT!

I looked through the windows (I could see the lounge and the bedroom from the back garden) I could see a sleeping bag and stuff in one room and loads of furniture in another…then I saw the outline of a person. I knocked on the window.

“Let me in” I said and motioned to the door.

The person (a girl) looked out of the window at me and went to the door. She opened the door. I grabbed the key off her.

“What are you doing in my house? Get your stuff and get OUT”

She was shocked and walked to the bedroom away from me. “Me not speak English” She said

“Don’t try and play that with me” I replied. “Get your stuff and get out now – this is MY house”  She got her phone and started calling – in that moment I looked down and I saw 5 pairs of shoes all orderly lined up….

“OH MY GOD” I thought. How many people are here….who is she calling…how many people are about to arrive with just me here on my own!!!

I called 999…I needed police back up!

“Please come and help me, someone has broken into my flat, the person’s here now, she claims she doesn’t speak English and there are 5 pairs of shoes here. I am scared she is calling more people – I don’t know how many people are here or are coming and I am here on my own”

Within seconds of putting down the phone 5 men arrive in the back garden.


I don’t know where I found my nerve…

“What the hell do you think you are doing” I shout at them. “You do not live here, this is MY house, you have broken in, you are trespassing, you are illegal and you are LEAVING. Get your stuff and get out”

They stand and look at me (they are all tall, big men and I am 5 foot 2 but I am FURIOUS)

They talk amongst themselves in a foreign language.

I am having none of it:

“There’s no point you standing there talking and pretending you don’t understand me. Get your stuff and get out of MY house”

They realise I am not kidding, they start collecting their things.

The police are on their way” I shout

3 minutes later a riot van turns up, sirens blasting and 6 police men run to the flat.

The squatters are collecting their belongings and the police are wonderful. They start asking the squatters what they’re doing, how they got in and for their passports etc. The squatters say they are leaving.

I hand the squatters their belongings – it was surreal. They thank me as I pass them their blow up mattress, blankets, bags of foods and their hoover!!

The police ask them to leave one-by-one and search them on their way out to make sure they have nothing belonging to the property.

The head policeman takes me to one side:

“Look” he says “You are very lucky, they are leaving. Yes we can see they have broken into the property, but as you didn’t see it and nor did we and because none of them are admitting to it, it is very difficult for us to arrest them”

“Yes I understand” I reply

At least they have gone…you are very lucky. People who know the system will put up a notice and then we can’t even enter the property. Think yourself lucky” He says

“I do” I agree

The policemen start squirting antibacterial handwash over their hands and offer me some…then they get a call on the radio – there is a women screaming from their radios

“We’ve got to go” they shout, then run from the flat into their riot van

I am left in the flat with the locksmith who has now changed all the locks

“You are so lucky” he says “I have been to a few of these and the squatters don’t leave. You handled that really well. I cannot believe that she opened the door to you!”

I agree again – I realise I am very lucky indeed.

And to make sure I don’t get any future problems I secured the property with huge metal shutters just 30 minutes later 🙂  

  1. Sue

    It’a amazing what a 5ft 2in girl FULL of adrenaline can do!! Well done.

    I am not an expert but I did a bit of reading on that subject once since I had HAD squatters in a place that needs renovating. I went to the Court to get the Possession Order on the way to the property.

    I believe it’s true that if they leave when requested AND you didn’t break in (you were “invited in”, luckily) then you can regain possession without any court involvement….

    Well done again….


    1. Sam

      Thank you Sue – I agree. Later that night I felt like I had won the lottery! Had it have gone the other way I would have had to have gone to court, waited ages, spent loads, maybe lost my buyer….I was SO lucky I am really grateful! Just goes to show what you can achieve when you are determined!

  2. Jo King

    You never cease to amaze me Sam – It was only a couple of weeks ago I was calling you one very Ballsey lady – you continue to live up to and surpass that description!!!

    Well done Girl – risky, impetuous but very plucky and I personally wish more were like you. I like to think I’d have done similar but I’m not sure, who knows till it’s you in that situation. Like you I believe sometimes being 5′ and a bit (5′ 1″ in my case LOL!) has its’ advantages but you can never be 100% sure.


  3. Jo King

    Forgot to say in my comment above Sam – I don’t consider you were lucky, I consider you took control of the situation and the result was down to your initiative and the intuition you used, probably unconsciously at the time but nonetheless you judged the situation and took the appropriate action as a result of your experience. Yes you could have got a very different response and outcome but you would probably have acted accordingly – ‘Seize the day’ as they say and you did!

  4. David GW Bartlett

    Hi Sam,

    Wow, my pulse raced as I read this and then I got to this bit:

    “I hand the squatters their belongings – it was surreal. They thank me as I pass them their blow up mattress, blankets, bags of foods and their hoover!!”

    I’m left imagining a scene from a comedy sketch. I’m so pleased that you got a good result in the end, but am still furious that you had to divert a full day of your precious time to this.

    Best result and best regards,


    1. Sam

      Thanks David – it started pretty normal (esp when she let me in) then scary (when i saw all the men’s shoes) then comic (them saying thank you!)

      I feel so happy and relived that this went OK, I am well aware having spoken to people after the event, this could have gone quite wrong…

      PS. please note my blog is now at http://www.whatsamsawtoday.com so hope to see you there 🙂

    1. Sam

      Have you read the one where I sacked the agents in Liverpool…and Fuerteventura – honestly if you want a job done well you just have to do it yourself! “Attitude” is the only way you can get on in this line of work 😉

  5. Julie Hanson

    Hi Sam,

    I really couldn’t believe what I was reading!!

    Well done for going for it and getting rid of them. I was hooked on the story. It would definitely make a good comedy sketch!

    People are unbelievable to break into your house and to move in. Makes me really mad!!

    Good for you.


  6. Rich

    Wow! What a great story! It takes a lot of balls to pull off a stunt like that. Just goes to show lack of physical size is no bar to a really powerful spirit.

    Also it sounds like you judged it just right, harnessing pure force of will but tempered by a powerful intuition telling you just how far to push it and no further. Probably if it was going to turn really nasty you’d have sensed it and backed off. Not everyone has the balls for this (most don’t!), but most don’t have the intuition either so it would be potential suicide.

    BTW I think this is part of the same acute intuition which is such a great BS detector and alerted you to the bogus tenant a few weeks back who wanted to move into the luxury flat!

    Brilliant story, keep ’em coming!


  7. Diane

    Wow! That’s got my pulse racing just reading that! How scary but good for you for standing your ground!
    That must have been such a shocking day for you.

    I’ve read a little about squatters in the past, but usually about how hard the process to get them out is, so it’s wonderful to hear someone who was fortunate to get the problem solved so easily.

    I’m off to read the hints on how to avoid squatters now!

  8. prime location awards, an interview with… sam collett | Karen Haller | Blog | Karen Haller Colour & Design Consultancy is based in West London, UK, working with businesses and private clients on their branding, personal and interior colours &

    […] my “followers” sent me the link and told me I should enter for the best blog post when I got rid of squatters from my South London flat I was selling. While it was a scary experience (which admittedly not many should practice) the post […]

  9. Maria

    Wow, just stumbled across this and had a great read. Am so happy that you had a positive ending. We have had a few squatters in the past, but one particular one kept getting in. He was the type of person you did not want a confrontation with, going by witness accounts of him: drunk or on drugs, shouting at passers by, unkempt looking and a general nuisance to the surrounding neighbours. The police did not want anything to do with it at first… that is, until I looked up the law which stated that squatters can only enter legally through an opened area (window, door, etc.) and that they must not damage anything in order to gain entrance or they lose their rights (I wonder why they have rights to other people’s properties in the first place? Its outrageous). Our squatter had been kicking in the main front door to gain entrance (causing obvious damage to the door and surrounding frame), even though we had repeatedly had it made secure; it no longer closed, just swung about in the breeze. Thankfully that gave us the right to persuade the police into taking action and removing the man and his belongings from the property. There are far too many loopholes in the law regarding this. I doubt many people leave their windows and doors open to allow squatters in and the vast majority are all illegal – why the law protects them, I have no idea? Perhaps home owners should petition the government to change the laws surrounding this; after all, they get enough taxation from the housing market yet do nothing in return to protect those who line their pockets and everything for those who do not!
    Wonderful blogg by the way 🙂

    1. Sam


      Thanks for your kind words and for sharing your experiences. The law has now tightened up around this – although I have yet to test it (and don’t fancy it!)

  10. rob

    I once had a tenants boyfriend claim squatters rights as he’d forced her out with abuse. I asked for police assistance to prevent breach of the peace, but I was sent the two smallest WPC’s you’ve ever seen. (small is beautiful though!)
    The guy had been stripping out the copper wiring from the top floor, and had it all coiled up in a bag- which i had to let him take.
    He had hand written notices in his best handwriting claiming squatters rights.
    I even had to come back a week or so later to let him get his things, and to be abused by his friends.
    We had a signed tenancy agreement from the actual tenant, showing that the property was not vacant,and a letter from her expressing her wish for him to leave. Voila, instant trespasser.
    I had thought that this year squatters rights were stopped?

    1. Sam

      That’s terrible – I’m not sure why you had to let him take the wiring? Wasn’t that criminal damage? Couldn’t you have got him arrested and then got property back?

  11. Steve

    Someone was rough sleeping in my foyer, one day I threw a bucket of water at him. Nothing says get out of my house like a bucket of water.

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