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What is adverse possession?

Date Added 02.12.21

Adverse Possession enables someone in possession of land belonging to someone else to obtain title to the land provided certain criteria are satisfied, this person is often referred to as the squatter.

What must the squatter prove?

In the case of unregistered and registered land, the squatter will need to evidence that they:

  • factually possessed the land for the requisite period of time without interruption; and
  • had the required intention to possess the land during the time they occupied it.

Factual possession

The squatter must prove that for the requisite period of time, (details below) they had the required degree of physical control over the land in question.  The squatter, therefore, needs to demonstrate that they have exclusively dealt with the land in a manner which an owner occupying the land may have done.

The period of ownership needs to be 10 or 12 years depending on whether the period in occupation ends before 13 October 2003 and whether the land is registered or not.

Intention to possess

The squatter must demonstrate that during the required period of occupation they had the required intention to possess the land in their own name and on their own behalf.

To the extent legally permitted and possible, the required intention to possess must be to exclusion of all others.

Application process

The facts and matters in dispute will be relevant to deciding whether to make an application to the Land Registry or the Court.

If the application to the Land Registry is contested, (and there is a process to be followed once an application by a squatter is received), the Land Registry will refer the matter to the Lands Tribunal to determine.

Getting your case in order with the required evidence is fundamental to any application by any squatter succeeding or being defended.  Tollers have a team of experts who can quickly assess the merits of any claim and advise on the application process whether it be on behalf of the squatter or landowner opposing the application.

Adverse possession is a complex issue, if you would like to speak to a member of our Dispute Resolution team…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our team will be happy to discuss your claim further.

The Government’s guide regarding Adverse Possession.

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