This is an interesting area of the law which is commonly misunderstood.
Adverse possession is a legal principle whereby a person who does not have legal title can become the owner of land by being in possession of it for long enough to oust the title of the true owner.
The test, however, is a stringent one and you must be able to demonstrate exclusive possession with physical control to the exclusion of all others for a period of at least 10 years.
If you are able to meet the relevant criteria then it is possible to apply to have the land transferred into your name.
There are, in fact, two different regimes which apply. The first relates to claims made based on possession prior to 13th October 2003 and the second applies to registered land and claims based on possession after the above date.
Previously if the squatter could prove they had been in control of the land for 12 to the exclusion of the true owner which remains the case for unregistered land .However, in 2003, the Land Registration Act 2002 introduced a new set of rules which apply to registered land.
In order to succeed the applicant must establish adverse possession of the land for 10 years and believe on reasonable grounds that he or she owned it. The registered proprietor can, however, serve a counter-notice opposing the registration. In addition, the claim will be rejected unless the applicant can prove one of the conditions set out in the Act.
The relevant evidence filed in support of an application is extremely important and therefore it is strongly recommended that legal advice is taken prior to any application being submitted.
This is a very specialised area of the law and we always recommend therefore that you take legal advice upon the merits of any claim.
We hope you find this article of use, should you want to talk about a specific matter please call 02476 641642, and ask for Peter or Matthew.