Have you ever heard people saying “if you have looked after someone else’s land for long enough you acquire squatter’s rights” and then wondered what they meant by this?

This is in fact a legal principle known as adverse possession. If adverse possession can be established, then a person who possesses someone else’s land for an extended period of time can apply for legal ownership of that land. If the party claiming to have possessed the land is successful, they will not have to pay the owner any money for the land.

The conditions to be satisfied for an adverse possession claim to succeed are as follows:

1. That the land has been possessed to the exclusion of all others – evidence of this could be that the land has been enclosed with fencing and used as part of an extension to the possessor’s existing garden.
2. That the land has been continuously occupied by the possessor for 10 years (if the land is registered) or 12 years (if the land is unregistered)
3. That the land has been possessed without notice, permission nor consent of the owner
4. That the possession of the land has not been challenged by the owner or any other
5. That the land is adjacent to land already owned by the possessor
6. That the land has been solely maintained and used by the possessor as their own

The Land Registry consider all evidence submitted in support of the above and if there are no objections to the application by the owner or adjoining land owners, the land will become registered in the possessor’s name. If there are objections, then negotiations can occur and ultimately if no agreement is reached,  the matter can be referred to the Land Tribunal for a final decision to be made.

At Brearleys we can offer a fixed fee service for the initial application of £700 plus VAT plus Land Registry fees of £150.

If you are looking to sell your home and there is some land you have possessed that is not included in your title deeds, now is the time to make claim!