There is a long-established legal precept known as “adverse possession” by which an applicant may apply to the Land Registry and “stake a claim” to land or property for which they may not already hold title. There are many circumstances that could arise that may warrant a claim such as this having to be made to the Land Registry – although perhaps the most common is where the legal owner of the land in question is not known, the land is not registered with the Land Registry, and it falls within the physical boundary of an applicant’s property.
What proof do I need?
Adverse possession was a subject of much controversy until the Land Registration Act 2002 was enacted. The law introduced at that time provided a new framework, introducing strict requirements having to be met before an application for adverse possession can be considered. One such requirement includes the applicant having to demonstrate they are in “factual possession” of the land/property and that such use has been “as of right”, i.e. without the consent of, or payment to, any third party for a continuous period (10 years or more if the land is registered, or 12 years if unregistered).
There are other requirements – including demonstrating the applicant had the “intention to possess” the land/property as their own – and it is worth noting that simply maintaining an area (e.g. by cutting the grass) is not evidence on its own of factual possession; nor can a claim be made to own a track which you enjoy a formal easement over.
How successful are adverse possession claims?
Every application is looked at by the Land Registry on an individual basis. There is no guarantee an application will be successful and if it is contested by a third party, it may ultimately need to be considered by the Land Tribunal.
Professional help with adverse possession
At Eccles Heddon, we have experienced commercial and agricultural solicitors who would be happy to discuss any potential adverse possession claims with you.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.
Author: Hayley Barker (Trainee Solicitor) - visit Hayley's profile to learn more about her.