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Adverse Possession – can you turn a long story into a simple title?

Often, when I come to sell a property, particularly those being sold by executors or close to disused railway lines or other redundant areas of land, the plan held at the Land Registry and the outline of the property on the ground do not match.

When the buyer raises the question, “what about the bit of garden at the back”, and I speak to the seller, there is usually a long story – in one case the land had been being used by the family since 1938 in spite of it not actually featuring on the Land Registry’s plans!

Of course, a nice tale about your grandparents fencing the land so that they could put chickens in it, when their neighbour Jo Bloggs moved on, won’t satisfy the new buyer. However a title registered at the Land Registry will be much more appealing.

Adverse Possession is a complicated process and there are subtle differences between the applications depending upon whether or not the land to be sold is currently registered at the Land Registry. The Land Registry guidance runs to some 40 pages. However, importantly for you, if you can answer yes to the following then it is worth contacting us to establish whether we might be able to carry out this application for you, saving time and inconvenience on a future sale.

In summary:-

  • For registered land you will need to be able to show that you have had actual possession of the land for more than 10 years. You must have had an intention to possess the land to the exclusion of all others including the original owner. You must possess the land without the consent of the original owner.
  • For unregistered land the rules are slightly different and the possession in this case must be 12 years or more. Again we will need to be able to show an intention to possess the land to the exclusion of all others, including the original owner, and you must possess the land without the consent of the original owner.
  • By providing the Land Registry with one or more statements of truth, and the various accompanying information and documents required, you can obtain a paper title to the area of land. For many people this will simply be an extra bit of garden but it could still add value to the property.

Don’t leave it until you decide to sell the property, act now. Adverse possession applications can delay a sale by several weeks, if not months. It’s worth a call to see whether we can submit an application and have the property officially registered.

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