Squatting, Ownership and Possession

There is an adage that possession is nine-tenths of the law. This isn’t entirely true, although it is easier to claim ownership of land if you are in possession of the land.

This is known as adverse possession and there is a clear process that must be followed, and evidenced, in order for a party to successfully apply for ownership of land.

If you have been in possession of the land for a certain length of time (10 or 12 years depending on the type of land and the period of occupation) and if you can evidence that you have had uninterrupted possession of the land and treated the land as if you are the owner you may be entitled to secure the rightful ownership of it.

Squatting in residential properties (this is separate to tenants who have stopped paying rent) is illegal whereas squatting in non-residential properties or land is not generally considered a crime unless damage is caused.

Long term squatting can be a defence to an action in trespass/for recovery of land and /or may lead to the “squatter” becoming the registered owner of the land, if an application is made to the Land Registry. Swift action by the true landowner is therefore recommended to prevent damage and issues regarding ownership.

To discuss any issues you may be experiencing please contact a member of our team on 01204 377600. Alternatively you can send an email with your name, contact information and brief details as to the nature of your issue to disputeresolution@afglaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.

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