April 17, 2023

A guide to squatting and adverse possession claims

Adverse possessions squatters rights

What is Adverse Possession, and what is the legal process?

Adverse possession, sometimes referred to as squatting, is the occupation of land by a person who is not legally entitled to or authorised to be there. If a person or company adversely possesses a piece of land or property for a certain time period, while meeting the essential requirements, they may be able to apply to the Land Registry for legal ownership.

What is the time period needed in occupation before an individual can claim registration by way of Adverse Possession?

The required time period in occupation needed prior to making an application claiming registration by adverse possession will vary depending on if the area in question is registered or unregistered and if, in the case the land is registered, when that registration took place.

The required time period in occupation prior to claiming registration of unregistered land is 12 years.

For claims of registered land, the Land Registration Act 2002 means we must first consider when the applicant’s occupation first commenced.

If the applicant’s occupation commenced prior to 13th October 1991, they will need to show they have been in adverse possession of the land for 12 years.

If the applicant’s occupation commenced after 13th October 1991, the time period required is 10 years. The Land Registration Act 2002 prescribes a slightly shorter time period because the hurdles an applicant must overcome in applications of this type are more strenuous in order to grant the landowner greater protection.

It is important to remember that occupation for the required time limit does not automatically mean an adverse possession application will be successful. There are other essential requirements that must be satisfied before the Land Registry will move forward with your application.

What are the essential requirements of Adverse Possession?

There are three essential requirements which must be present for the required period. An applicant must show:

1. They have had factual possession of the land

2. The necessary intention to possess the land

3. At all times, occupation without the owner’s consent

These requirements, especially factual possession and the necessary intention to possess, are complex and every application submitted to the Land Registry undergoes a thorough screening process. Each application is considered on its own merits and is assessed in consideration of the legal framework and case law.

How much does an Adverse Possession application cost?

The Land Registry charge an application fee ranging from £70 to £130 depending on the regime used. Our legal fees will vary depending on the complexities of your matter. However, we can potentially offer a fixed fee for the preparation and submission of an application following an initial review.

How do I apply for Adverse Possession?

Applications for registration by way of adverse possession are made directly to the Land Registry and can be extremely time sensitive. The method in which to apply, in addition to the required supporting evidence, documents and forms, will vary depending on the regime used. While multiple applications can be made if an initial application is rejected, given Land Registry waiting times and evidence stored by the Land Registry, it is essential to have the application submitted in the best form possible. Getting the application in the correct form, with all essential requirements addressed in full, will also assist the Land Registry if objections are made. Given the complexity, we therefore always recommend seeking legal advice prior to any application.

Our specialists in adverse possession claims

You can contact a member of the team direct to discuss your potential adverse possession claim

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