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Adverse Possession of Land

adverse possession of land

If you are not sure if land is yours then check online with Land Registry. See my other article for details on how to do this and how to order deeds and documents. There is a small fee payable to the Registry. If you are using land, but have no deeds for it, then you may wish to claim adverse possession. How you do this is discussed below. .

The Land Registry is a Government body recording property ownership in England and Wales. Deeds and documents can be ordered online by anyone as they are available to the public.

You can apply to the Registry direct to make an Adverse Possession claim. There is an application fee to pay and various forms and evidence to submit. It is advisable to read the online guidance written by the Registry beforehand. See their Practice Guide (number 5). This sets out what you need. The link is below.

Your Conveyancer can also submit an adverse possession claim for you. Due to their expertise they may be best placed to do this. Bear in mind that there is no guarantee of success with any Land Registry application.

The Registry will serve notice on all relevant properties and parties and they may perform a site visit. Neighbours or interested parties may want to dispute the adverse possession claim or make their own representation. You can check if the disputed land is registered and who owns it online via the Registry website.

There are many Land Registry Practice Guides online and the Adverse Possession Practice Guide can be found via this link:

What Does The Practice Guide Say

You must fit the criteria set out in the Practice Guide which is basically:-

  • You must have 10 years of adverse possession – after which the “squatter” can apply to be registered in place of the legal owner.

  • On application the Registry will serve notice on those persons interested in the land such as the legal owner, neighbouring properties, and the mortgage lender who has a charge (loan) secured on the property.

  • The application can be opposed by these interested parties.

  • Adverse possession requires factual possession and physical control of the land and intention to possess without the legal owner’s consent.

  • Intention to possess means showing intention to possess in one’s own name and on one’s own behalf and to exclude the world at large including the legal owner.

  • Evidence will be required.

  • A land registry compliant plan will be required, showing the extent of the land in question. It is best to have an expert draft this, such as a surveyor, to ensure it is accurate and you do not receive Land Registry requisitions or queries. Land Registry are very particular.

  • Land Registry may require a physical inspection. (Highly likely)

  • There is no guarantee of success with an Adverse Possession claim.  It is dependent upon Land Registry adjudication.

  • Putting fences around the disputed land does not guarantee success.

HMLR delays



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