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Claiming Adverse Possession of Land

March 3, 2023

A person who possesses land which is not their own for an extended period of time can claim what is known as adverse possession over the land. The person who does this is known as a ‘squatter’.

In England and Wales there are two adverse possession regimes:

  1. The Land Registration Act 2002 which applies to registered land; and
  2. The old scheme which is based on the Limitation Act 1980 and applies to unregistered land.

To claim adverse possession over land, the following elements must be proven:

  1. The person applying must establish that the land has been in their exclusive possession for:
    • In the case of unregistered land, 12 uninterrupted years.
    • In the case of registered land, 10 uninterrupted years.
  2. It must also be shown that the person applying had the intention to possess the land to the exclusion of all others and without the owner’s consent.

If the above is established, an application can be made to Land Registry to have the land registered in the name of the person applying. Land Registry will require evidence in the form of a signed statement of truth. The statement of truth will set out why the person applying believes they have satisfied the two elements outlined above will also include details of the lands boundary features. Other evidence such as photographs can also be used to assist with the application.

Provided the application is not contested, Land Registry will usually register the person applying as the new owner. They are likely to register the land as “possessory” which means that the person registered is in possession of the land but no paperwork has been produced to show that they are the true owner. A possessory title can be up upgraded after 12 years. If you need any further information about claiming adverse possession, please contact the office to speak to a member of the conveyancing team.

Parris Ball
Trainee Solicitor – Residential Conveyancing Department

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.