In simple terms, adverse possession is when a person intends to possess a parcel of land without the consent of the legal owner and acquires factual possession of the land.
To make your ownership of the land official you will need to make an adverse possession claim to the land registry. You will need to have adversely possessed the land in question for specific period of time before the land registry will consider an application. The length of time varies depending on whether the land is already registered or unregistered.
Where the land is already registered a squatter (the person adversely possessing the land) can make an application to the land registry once they have been possessing the land for a period of 10 years. The application is made using the land registry form ADV1: registration of a person in adverse possession. The registered proprietor will be notified of the application and will have the ability to oppose the application.
Where land is unregistered, a squatter making an application to the land registry must demonstrate they have adversely possessed the land for a period of 12 years prior to the date of the application. Unlike with registered land, an application to adversely possess unregistered land must be made using the land registry form FR1. This is the same for used when registering any land with the land registry for the first time.
For any adverse possession claim to be ratified by the land registry, certain criteria will need to be met, including; factual possession of the land, the necessary intent to possess the land and that possession of the land has taken place without the consent of the land owner. HM Land Registry will consider each application on its own merits and will take into account all the evidence presented to them with the application before making a decision.
Whether you are looking to make an application for adverse possession for registered or unregistered land it is recommended that you seek legal advice to give yourself the best chance at having your legal possession of the land confirmed and registered by HM Land Registry.
If you are considering making an application for adverse possession to HM Land Registry, we at Hegarty Solicitors can offer advice on whether or not your application might be successful and the best way to present your application to give you the best chance at registering you as the owner of the land.