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A Guide to Adverse Possession

A Guide to Adverse Possession

A Guide to Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is a legal principle where someone can gain ownership of another person’s land by openly using it without permission for a specified period (usually 10-12 years), while meeting certain criteria. It can lead to a transfer of ownership if conditions are met and the original owner doesn’t challenge the claim.

Adverse possession aims to balance property rights with the need to prevent neglect and abandoned land.

This blog can act as an adverse possession guide, explaining how adverse possession works and how to make a claim.

What is adverse possession?

Adverse possession is a legal concept where a person who is not the original owner of a piece of land can acquire legal ownership over that land by openly using it without the owner’s permission for a specific period of time. This principle is governed by the Limitation Act 1980 and the Land Registration Act 2002.

For adverse possession to occur, certain conditions must be met. The possession must be “adverse,” meaning without the owner’s consent. It must also be continuous, open, and exclusive for a defined period, which is generally 10 years under the current law. If these conditions are satisfied, the possessor can apply to the Land Registry to become the legal owner of the property.

In recent years, changes have been made to the law to make it more difficult to claim adverse possession in the UK, especially when the land is already registered with the Land Registry.

These changes aim to strike a balance between protecting the interests of landowners and ensuring a fair process for potential adverse possessors.

Adverse possession cases can be complex, involving legal procedures, evidence of possession, and considerations of fairness. It’s recommended to seek legal advice if dealing with adverse possession matters.

How can I make an adverse possession claim?

To initiate an adverse possession claim, you need to follow a specific legal process, as outlined by the Limitation Act 1980 and the Land Registration Act 2002. Here are the general steps:

  1. Qualification Period: Depending on the circumstances, you must be in possession of the land without the owner’s permission for either 10 or 12 years, depending on whether the land is registered or unregistered and when this period of possession was achieved.
  2. Continuous and Adverse Possession: Your possession of the land must be continuous, without any significant gaps or interruptions. The use should also be “adverse,” meaning you’re using it without the owner’s consent.
  3. Evidence Gathering: Gather evidence to prove your continuous and adverse possession. This can include documents, photographs, utility bills, and any other evidence demonstrating your use and occupation of the land.
  4. Application to Land Registry: An application can be made to Land Registry for adverse possession. If successful, you may be granted possessory title initially.
  5. Landowner’s Response: The landowner has the opportunity to challenge your claim. If they object, the case might be referred to the Property Tribunal.

It’s important to note that adverse possession claims can be legally complex. Seeking legal advice from a qualified solicitor is highly recommended to navigate the process effectively and ensure you have the necessary evidence to support your claim.

How much does an adverse possession claim cost?

The costs associated with an adverse possession claim include legal fees, land registry fees, and potential expenses related to gathering evidence and documentation to support the claim.

It’s important to note that unsuccessful claims can result in not only financial losses but also potential liability for the other party’s legal costs.

To get an accurate estimate of the cost of an adverse possession claim, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified solicitor who can assess the unique circumstances of the case and provide a clearer picture of the potential expenses involved.

Contact our experienced property disputes and litigation solicitors to discuss your claim

To discuss your adverse possession dispute please contact a member of our team on 0330 175 7613 or contact us via the enquiry form at the top of this page.

Please note: our legal team are unable to provide legal advice without charge. We will provide you with a pricing proposal at the outset and we usually require monies on account before commencing work.