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Adverse Possession

  • Adverse Possession is the occupying of a property for at least 12 years without the agreement of the landlord.
  • Usually the owner of the property so subject is unaware or would take steps to prevent it.
  • After 12 years the occupier can claim possession by formalizing a previously informal arrangement.
  • Squatters who have not paid rent or been granted a license or permission to reside are likely candidates.
  • Landlords abroad (absent landlords) may be unaware of occupancy.
  • Adjacent property owners may be unaware that a portion of their land has become fenced off (creating exclusive possession) or "groomed" for adverse possession unknown to the owner until a claim is presented.
  • A property can be purchased unwittingly from an apparent owner who no longer actually owns the property.  Third party action is likely to enable recovery - very messy.
  • The new "owner" must prove title by evincing
    • exclusive possession - the right to exclude the landlord and others from a portion of the property.
    • absence of original owner consent
    • continuous possession or control for at least 12 years.
Published: 24 September 2015 Last Updated: 17 November 2021