An adverse possession claim can be presented to the Land Registry if you are occupying land, by “squatting”, but it is not currently registered to you. It might be that you are occupying a small parcel of land at the rear of a garden, for example. We can consider if the application has any merit and advise you on the process, applying to the Land Registry on your behalf.

To make a successful application you must meet the criteria set by the Land Registry, this is:-

  • the squatter has factual possession of the land;
  • the squatter has the necessary intention to possess the land;
  • the squatter’s possession is without the owner’s consent;
  • all of the above have been true of the squatter and any predecessors through whom the squatter claims for at least 12 years prior to the date of the application.

Initially, the application is made to the Land Registry through a Statement of Truth, in which you set out why you believe the criteria above is met. To use the same bullet points we would need to establish:

  • Factual possession. You must be occupying the land as though you are the owner, this might include fencing it and padlocking a gate to exclude others, maintaining the land, although the physical control of the land will depend on individual circumstances.
  • Necessary intention. You must intend to exclude all others from the land and use it as land to benefit you, or the property you already own. This is also linked to factual possession, although every case is considered on its own merits by the Land Registry.
  • Without the owners consent. There must not be a licence or agreement in place for you to occupy the land. If you know who the owner is and they have agreed you can use the land, your claim is likely to be rejected.
  • 12 years. You must show occupation for at least 12 years. You might have photographic evidence or perhaps invoices for work undertaken at the land. We can also start at claim for an executor of a deceased if the deceased party had been occupying for at least 12 years.

Usually, we are dealing with parcels of land that are unregistered, it might be that a small part of your garden is unregistered or you have been using an area of farmland that is not part of the registered title but accessible only by you as the owner. This usually arises when we are dealing with a sale on your behalf, but if you are aware that you are occupying land that is not registered, we can make a claim to the Land Registry to try and register the land in your name.

The Land Registry sometimes send out a surveyor to survey the land and confirm the points in your Statement of Truth. This attracts an additional fee.

If the land you are occupying is already registered, for example to your neighbouring landowner, we can still make an application to the Land Registry, but notices have to be served on the neighbouring landowner, and they will have a period in which they can object to the claim. If you are attempting to claim a part of the public highway, this claim will be immediately unsuccessful.

If you are occupying a parcel of land that you do not believe is currently registered in your name, contact Rebecca Stanbury on 01566 771020 or [email protected] to discuss if a claim can be made.

WBW Solicitors has offices in AxminsterBovey TraceyBrixhamChardExeterExmouthHonitonLauncestonNewton AbbotPaigntonSeatonSidmouth, and Torquay.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.