Adverse Possession of Land

Adverse Possession of Land

The law to be applied to squatters rights depends upon the age of the squatters claim. A squatter has to prove a period of possession. If the period expires before the 13 October 2003 that period will be 12 years.

Disputes as to whether or not adverse possession has been obtained will be dealt with in the Courts.

Legislation in 2002 (The Land Registration Act 2002) brought in a new system in respect of registered land.

Under the old and the new systems it is necessary for a squatter to prove actual possession if he is to get over the first hurdle of proving adverse possession. Case law has used terms such as “exclusive” and “treating the land as their own”.

The acts taken by the squatter must be those normally undertaken by a land owner. These acts must not be based upon permission by the owner of the title to the land.

The squatter must have had an intention to possess the land.

Under the old system 12 years possession has to be established by the successful squatter.

Under the new system the period is just 10 years.

Since the new system relates to registered land the first port of call for determining whether adverse possession has been established is the Land Registry.

The squatter, after 10 years of adverse possession, is entitled to apply to have his interest in the land registered.

The Registry is required to determine applications and disputes using one or more of three principles known as “Portals”. The first is that it would be unconscionable to dispossess the squatter.

The second is that the squatter has some additional right to the land as well as the period of adverse possession.

The third is a reasonable mistake has been made as to boundaries at the Registry.

If the squatter fails in his application, he has not been removed from the land and continues in adverse possession for a further two years he may be able to make a second application. To this application there can be no objection from the registered owner.

A registered owner who has failed to evict during the two year period is therefore vulnerable to being ousted as owner. Upon his second application the squatter will be registered and the former registered owner removed.

For advice upon the law relating to adverse possession please contact Hand Morgan & Owen’s property team, Victoria Follows on 01785 211411

25 February 2016


The contents of this article are for the purposes of generally awareness only. they do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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