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Adverse Possession what is it and how can you claim?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Adverse possession, more colloquially known as ‘squatters rights’, is the process by which someone who is not the registered owner of a piece of land can have the land transferred to them following a period of 10 or 12 years of exclusive possession.

The period of time for occupation required is dependent upon whether the land is registered or unregistered or is dependent upon the date when the land was first registered. Other time periods may apply for more obscure situations, where the land may be held within a Trust or bona vacantia.

When does adverse possession begin?

Adverse possession will begin as soon as an individual takes over the full and exclusive occupation and control of the land in question without permission or consent. It is important to remember, however, that the land must have been occupied for 12 years if unregistered and ten years for registered land prior to the application being made. If the land was occupied by somebody prior to your occupation, a predecessor can be used to make up the necessary time period.

What are the requirements?

Unfortunately, it is not sufficient to show that the land has been occupied for a certain period of time. You need to exhibit exclusive occupation with an intention to exclude anyone else other than your invited visitors for the required period of time.

The land registry case workers have discretion when looking at applications, and therefore it is vital to show a use of the land as if it were already owned. For example, merely taking care of the land by mowing or tidying may not be sufficient. For that reason, the evidence in support of individual applications needs to be very carefully drafted to comply with the requirements of the Land Registry.

If you are thinking about making an adverse possession type claim, our commercial litigation team at Wilson Browne Solicitors can assist. However, there are deadlines that apply, and it is important to ensure that you receive expert advice at an early stage. Call us on 0800 088 6004 or fill in our online form.

Emily Griffiths


Emily Griffiths

Trainee Solicitor

Emily is a Trainee Solicitor in the Private Family team in our Northampton Office.