March 26, 2018

Squatting: What you need to know about Adverse Possession

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Adverse Possession is more legally the term to describe ‘squatting’. Therefore, it is the process of a person who is not the legal owner of the land but who can then become the legal owner, if they have been in possession of the land for a certain period of time and if they have met the criteria below. The rules have somewhat changed since the introduction of the Land Registry Act 2002, however, the principles remain the same.


  • The Land Registration Act 2002(LRA 2002), which came into force on 13 October 2003, introduced a new regime which applies to claims for adverse possession of registered land where 12 years’ adverse possession had not accrued before 13 October 2003. Therefore, the new rules require 10 years adverse possession of the land before an application can be made.
  • The old law continues to apply to adverse possession in respect of ‘unregistered land (based on 12 years’ adverse possession under the Limitation Act 1980(LA 1980)) and registered land where 12 years’ adverse possession had accrued before 13 October 2003 (under transitional provisions of the LRA 2002).


  1. Factual Possession of the Land – You will need to demonstrate sufficient degree of ‘exclusive physical control’. This is dependent on the use of the land; it may be sufficient grounds to mow the grass, plant flowers, and place signposts up for advertising. A major point that must be considered is that when you are exercising the said factual possession, you are in essence excluding the world at large when doing so. It is usual for someone to fence land off/erect locked gates in this regard; though this is not always determinative it can be exceptionally helpful.
  1. Intention to Possess – You need to establish for the last 10 or 12 years that it has always been the intention to possess the land exclusively.
  1. Occupation without the Owners Consent – Consent can be either formal or informal, for instance a license to occupy or a conversation confirming your use of the land.

If the above criteria are met, then you will be in a position to make an application to the Land Registry. In support of your application for adverse possession you will need to provide supporting historic evidence in the form of a statutory declaration, stating the circumstances of your occupation.

If you are considering making an application for adverse possession, contact our experienced litigation department today. Our dynamic team think outside the box to assist you in finding the best solution based on your needs and circumstances.