What recourse do I have against squatters?

Question from Andrew updated on 1st October 2008:

I have a bad tenant whose tenancy is finally up in August 18th. She owes us nearly $2000 in rent and has caused a lot of damage to the property, in which we can't even get in to check the property over. She has now claimed 'squatters rights' and is refusing to leave the premises by 3pm on the 18th as stipulated in a letter to her. We have a tribunal hearing for her on the 21st. How can I get this 'scum' out of my house on the 18th to get repairs done and new tenants in before I lose them?

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

When a landlord rents a property to a tenant, they surrender possession to them. The landlord is not entitled to possession of the premises until either the tenant hands possession back or until the Tenancy Tribunal grants a possession order to the landlord. If a tenant remains in the premises after their tenancy has ended (with or without consent), the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations to each other continue until the tenant hands possession of the premises back or until the landlord enforces a possession order against the tenant. This means that if your tenant does not return possession of the premises to you at the end of the tenancy, you have to get a possession order from the Tenancy Tribunal. A possession order must then be enforced by filing the order with the District Court Collections Unit


The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.




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