A successful adverse possession claim will permit someone who occupies property but who is not its legal owner to become registered as such. The procedure is complex and several key factors must be established.

What is Adverse Possession?

Each year HM Land Registry receives several thousand applications based in whole or in part on adverse possession. Many cases are disputed and are the subject of court proceedings or hearings before the Adjudicator of the Land Registry. Some of the land involved is of great value. In many cases an adverse possession case may also involve a boundary dispute.

The normal rule is that if there is adverse possession for 10 or 12 years the owner of the paper title will not be able to recover the land and the possessor will be entitled to have the land registered in his name.

The Land Registration Act 2002 changed the rules on Adverse Possession or ‘squatters rights’ as it is often better known. However, the old rules do still apply to periods of possession which started before 1991 or to unregistered land.

Timing is therefore very important in these cases for both the paper title owners and the possessors. In order not to lose their entitlement to recover their land the owners (if they are aware that they are at risk) may need to make possession claims to stop time running against them. On the other hand, during the limitation period, the possessors will not want to take any step that will alert the owners to the position.

The rules are extremely complex but if you are seeking to establish an adverse possession claim, or are resisting one, we can help. With our extensive experience in this field we can guide you through any challenges you encounter. Please call for advice on 0161 833 0044 or email litigation@abacus-law.co.uk