Adverse Possession Unregistered Land

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Adverse Possession Unregistered Land

It may be challenging to claim adverse possession unregistered land. The Land Registration Act 2002 and the Limitation Act 1980 require that you demonstrate that you meet all the requirements for adverse possession of unregistered land to be successful.

When submitting your adverse possession of the unregistered land application, you must prove that you have factual possession of your unlisted land application. You must also prove you intend to possess the land and have owned and kept it for a minimum qualifying period.

Generally, it’s assumed that the intention to keep was carried by acts that led to factual possession. However, this is only sometimes true.

We can help if you have had Adverse Possession Unregistered Land for over 12 years. If you wish to become the registered proprietor of the land, we can help. If you want to apply for adverse possession, we can assist you in assessing your rights.

 

What Is An Adverse Possession?

There was always an unwavering belief that the landowner should utilize it fully. Land is a finite resource; therefore, if it isn’t used productively, someone else can benefit from it. But you can utilize it or lose it. The concept of adverse possession developed as a part of English law because of this idea.

The legal conditions can grant title to the property to a person who violates them. But, as you may imagine, this is challenging and certainly doesn’t happen in a flash. The process of getting adverse possession may take several years.

 

What Are The Differences Between Registered Land And Unregistered Land?

As of 1990, all land ownership transfers and sales in California must be registered within two months of the completion of the transfer. For nearly 100 years, California has adopted a compulsory land registration system.

Land Registry maintains a central register containing information about legal landowners, including:

  • Land-related rights;
  • Ownership of all land rights; and
  • Restrictions, covenants, or charges that may apply.

However, registering a piece of land poses a problem. Therefore, the legal owner of California’s land needs a central record of their interest because 13% of it is unregistered. Consequently, they must refer to a paper trail of “deeds” documents to prove ownership.

 

What will the owner do if the land or property is not registered?

You can register the property if you are still looking for a Title Number assigned to it by the Land Registry. The property owner will likely have the title deeds privately or keep them in a Bank or Building Society.

The owner will need to show proof of ownership through deeds and other documents from the past that do not have Land Registry documentation. The paper trail, often known as the “root of the title,” must be traced to at least 15 years ago. It should include the latest ownership change.

 

Risks Associated With Unregistered Properties

 

Title deeds lost

Unregistered properties have a significant risk. You might lose the title deed. An absolute proof of ownership is a title deed; with one, establishing ownership is simple.

Over time, it is possible to lose, misplace, throw away, or even steal these critical documents. Losing unregistered title deeds can cause substantial delays. This is particularly true when trying to sell a home. The Land Registry requires alternative evidence of ownership.

 

Possession of an adverse property

An individual may claim ownership of unregistered land under adverse possession by holding it for 12 years. We must meet certain conditions. If the Land Registry recorded it, they would notify the owner registered to the land, giving them the chance to object.

Unregistered land is vulnerable to adverse possession claims since the Land Registry has no idea who owns it. In addition, this creates the potential for fraud and the loss of part of your land.

 

The fraud

Fraudulent property applications are on the rise in recent years. Land Registry agents contact the registered owner when they receive suspicious applications.

Without registration, it is easier to determine the owner’s identity. As a result of the lack of registration, fraudulent activities can go unnoticed for a longer period.

Fortunately, owners registered with the Land Registry can use the Land Registry’s Property Alert service. It helps them prevent fraud. The service notifies owners by email about any activity related to the property.

 

A Method of Proving Adverse Possession

As a rule, the actual owner and intention to possess the land is evident from the facts. One prominent example is a squatter who erects a fence around the property to exclude the valid owner. Other activities, like cutting the grass, can show the intention to possess. However, it is only sometimes conclusive.

 

A Method of Proving Adverse Possession

 

Regardless of the activity, the ‘true’ paper owner must understand the reality of dispossession before accruing rights.

 

Unregistered Land Adverse Possession – what is it?

Adverse possession occurs when you use lands not part of a registered title – yours or someone else’s. Squatters are legally considered squatters on unregistered lands. Sometimes, adverse possession is called squatting.

California law grants certain rights to squatters. It depends on their squatting duration and whether they have registered the land.

 

Unregistered Land Adverse Possession Period

To become the registered proprietor through an adverse possession California application, you generally need to have been in adverse possession of an unregistered piece of land for over 12 years. If the Crown owns the land, it extends this minimum period to 30 years.

The government extends the tenure of foreshore and Crown-owned lands to 60 years. When a company dissolves, it transfers its land to the Crown by law. If you think the company owned the land you want to claim adverse possession of, you must search for the company. If a later dissolved company owns the land, the minimum 30-year period applies.

Church of England officeholders, such as bishops and vicars, are also subject to the 30-year rule. It applies to land owned by their spiritual corporation sole. You can also extend the minimum period to accommodate a disability. If the person entitled to adverse possession of the land has a disability.

 

The Transfer of Land Interest to another Squatter

You might pass on your interest in the land you possess adverse possession through inheritance or sale. The new settler must take possession of the land as soon as the previous squatter leaves. This ensures consideration of both squatters’ time holding the land for the minimum time requirement.

The child of an adverse possessor can apply for adverse possession after possessing unregistered land for an additional two years. The parent must have held the land for 10 years.

 

2002 Land Registration Act Amendments

Before introducing the Land Registration Act 2002, the assessment of a California claim for adverse possession of unregistered land was similar to that of a California claim under the Limitation Act 1980.

Since introducing the Land Registration Act 2002, the assessment of adverse possession of reported land cases has significantly changed. Unregistered land adverse possession applications have generally followed the same process.

 

If You Apply for Adverse Possession of Unregistered Land, Here’s What Will Happen

When HM Land Registry receives your application, it will likely send a surveyor from the Ordnance Survey to inspect it. We will inform you of this inspection in advance. If you claim adverse possession of unregistered land, you must pay a fee to check it. We will refund you if the survey is not conducted for any reason.

After the inspection, HM Land Registry will notify anyone interested in the unregistered land. If they genuinely believe you have been in adverse possession for the required years, they will grant notice of your application.

The application can only progress if we consider the objections groundless. Anyone who wishes to object to your application may do so in writing, usually through a conveyance. If the objections are not baseless, you and the objector can negotiate to reach an amicable agreement.

If the parties cannot agree, they will forward the matter to the tribunal. The tribunal will set a hearing date or may direct the case to court.

 

California Adverse Possession Cases

 

Chief Land Registrar v. Mr. Best

It was in 1997 that Mr Best, a builder and construction worker, discovered an abandoned property in serious disrepair. Upon learning that the house’s owner had passed away and their son had been missing for many years, he immediately started repairing the property. He eventually moved in at the end of January 2012.

Even though Mr Best had considered the property his own home since 2001, technically, he was a tree passer despite no disputes. His subsequent application for adverse possession in November 2012 was denied because Mr. Best had violated an anti-squatting law that had just come into effect two months earlier, based on his violation of the anti-squatting law. Despite the unfavorable decision, Mr Best appealed and soon claimed adverse possession in California.

 

London Borough of Lambeth v Smart

In 1971, Lambeth London Borough Council acquired several properties in Clapham. They left the properties vacant and dilapidated. Even though squatters quickly took over these vacant properties, the Council provided short-term housing associations for them.

It was a scheme involving residential squatters. Their predecessor had obtained a license from the housing association.

He had not signed any licenses or agreements but later became the sole owner of one property in 1984. Since he did not sign anything on behalf of the association or council, he believed he could claim adverse possession.

However, the Council accepted that he was an occupier of the property. Mr Smart and his predecessor had lived there for more than twelve years. Thus, Mr. Smart did not have an adverse interest in the property.

 

Moran v Buckinghamshire Council

Since 1971, Mr Moran had been using a plot of land to extend his garden. Buckinghamshire Council had purchased this land in 1955 to pave it over.

When Mr Moran’s predecessor claimed ownership of the land in 1967, it was considered unused and unwanted, and the Council never intervened until 1985, when Mr. Moran built his fence around it.

It was not in the Council’s interests to sue Mr. Moran because he had already secured the land and made it clear what he wanted to do. Additionally, the Council had left the land vacant for over twelve years.

 

How to Apply For Adverse Possession over Unregistered Land?

There are complicated rules regarding adverse possession over unregistered land. Below is a summary of the steps to acquire adverse possession. Despite being complex, the rules for registered land differ from those discussed below, so it is essential to be aware.

 

The Requirements of the Land Registry

A successful adverse possession application requires the applicant (the squatter) to demonstrate four main elements.

  • Squatters must possess the land, in fact;
  • Having the intention of keeping the land is necessary for a squatter;
  • Without the owner’s consent, the squatter owns the property;
  • Squatters must have met all the above requirements for at least 12 years before filing a claim (including predecessors and successive owners).

There must be supportive evidence, such as statutory declarations or statements of truth, documentary evidence, a land charges search certificate for the squatter (and any previous owners), and a Land Registry-compliant plan.

 

Noteworthy Points

According to Justice Slade, factual possession refers to the appropriate degree of physical control in Powell v McFarlane ((1977) 38 P & CR 452). As a result, the squatter must be in exclusive possession, so the land owner and the squatter cannot possess it simultaneously.

The actual circumstances will determine if the squatter’s factual possession implies an intention to possess. If the owner has given permission, for example, through a license, then ‘adverse possession’ is not a legal claim since the possession is under lawful ownership.

 

What Is The Point At Which Time Stops Running For Adverse Possession?

Generally speaking, the squatter must be in adverse possession of the unregistered land for a period exceeding 12 years without the owner’s consent, which is the minimum qualifying period.

According to Mount Carmel Investments Ltd v Peter Thurlow Ltd [1988] 1 WLR 1078, an owner can demand possession back even if the time runs out. A squatter’s adverse possession period may end when he or she acknowledges the owner’s title in writing, per sections 29(2) and 30(1) of the Limitation Act 1980.

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