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Adverse Possession

If you have occupied a piece of land for a number of years, you may be able to claim the land using the adverse possession procedure – even if you are not the legal owner of the land.

There are various different regimes applicable in the process of claiming land using adverse possession.

The route we would suggest to you will be based on when you or your predecessors first occupied the land.

To claim for adverse possession, it’s necessary to demonstrate that you have factual possession of the land – meaning you have exclusive physical control of the area. If the area was previously open ground, fencing can be used as strong evidence of control.

You will also need to prove that you have had a genuine intention to occupy the land, showing any actions of control you have carried out for your own benefit. Although this can be tricky, acts of maintenance are often useful evidence.

It’s important that you must be occupying the land without the owner’s consent. If the land has been occupied under a lease, or with any sort of permission from the owner, a claim for adverse possession is not valid.

If you meet the criteria that the law requires to claim land using this process, we will outline the options available to you and put together the various legal documents.

If the land you’re looking to claim is registered, The Land Registry will review your application and decide whether it’s valid.

They will then inform the owner of your intention to claim adverse possession, who then has 65 days to respond.

If the land is unregistered, The Land Registry will carry out an inspection and again decide whether your application is valid – informing the land owners of the decision if possible.

If the decision is contested, a tribunal will be arranged to determine ownership of the land.

Ask a question


  • What is adverse possession?

    In simple terms, it’s the process of claiming a piece of land that you have been occupying for a certain period of time - regardless of whether you’re the legal owner. The act of occupying land in this way is known as ‘squatting’.

  • What is the difference between registered and unregistered land?

    Land is registered if it's recorded on The Land Registry. This is an official government database outlining the legal owners of land across England and Wales.

  • After what period of time can I make an adverse possession claim?

    If you’re looking to claim an unregistered piece of land as your own, you will need to have been occupying it for at least 12 years. If the land is recorded on The Land Registry, the required occupation period is 10 years.

  • How do I make an adverse possession claim?

    To begin the process of claiming adverse possession, or to simply find out more, please contact Caroline Bowler on 0115 9 100 237 or email [email protected]

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"The 'highly professional' seven-fee-earner team at Actons handles a broad spectrum of cases, including matters with multi-jurisdictional elements."
The Legal 500
Actons's Nottingham team represents individuals, companies and charities in property litigation involving landlord and tenant matters, breach of contract claims and trust disputes, among other areas. Caroline Bowler has particular expertise in disputes concerning restrictive covenants, adverse possession and easements. 'Efficient and effective' associate Daniel Harley focuses predominantly on landlord and tenant litigation. Associate Gordan Monaghan joined the team from Bray & Bray in 2019.
The Legal 500 2021: Property Litigation

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