Reasons to choose Wilson Browne
There is no doubt that when the Land Registration Act 2002 (LRA) came into force on 13th October 2003 it brought with it further hurdles and complications for squatters to overcome when making a claim for adverse possession.
For applications of this type, not only do the usual requirements of adverse possession apply when making a claim, the LRA introduced further protections for the landowner should they serve a counter notice when opposing to any application made.
The counter notice would force the squatter to rely on one of three conditions, if they cannot then their application would be rejected.
The three conditions are:
1. It would be unconscionable for the squatter not to have the land registered in their name,
2. The squatter is entitled to the land, for example it has been left to them under a will, or
3. The land to which the application relates is adjacent to land belonging to the squatter, the exact line of the boundary between the two has not previously been determined and for at least the 10 year required period ending on the date of the application, the squatter reasonably believed the land to be their own.
It is the third condition that has now been explored in the recent case of Dowse v City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (2020). In this case, Mr and Mrs Dowse sought to rely on this condition however this was not accepted by Judge Justice Famcort because only a small area of the land was adjoining the land owned by Mr and Mrs Dowse. It was clarified by the Judge that to satisfy the condition the whole of the land, or a substantial part of the land, would need to be adjacent to the squatters own land.
In conclusion, we take away from this case that the size and shape of the adjoining boundary should be considered when seeking to rely on this third condition. It is always a risk to apply for registration by way of adverse possession under the new regime without being able to rely on a condition, as this now makes it even more problematic.