I think I own a parcel of land but it is not showing on my Deeds/Registered Title. What can I do?
If you think you own a parcel of land but have no evidence of ownership. Then you can make an application to the Land Registry for Adverse Possession. This is sometimes referred to as “squatters rights”.
You must have the intention to possess the land. So, if any parcel of land is completely fenced off and has been used by you for at least 10 years without hindrance or interruption, then an application can be made to the Land Registry for adverse possession of that land.
If the Land is registered to someone else, then the Land Registry will notify the registered proprietor to give them the opportunity to oppose the application. If the application is not opposed, then you will be registered as the legal owner (proprietor) of the land. If the application is opposed, then it will be rejected unless it would be considered unacceptable to or if there was evidence as to why you should be entitled to be the registered proprietor. In the event the application is rejected but you remain in possession of the land for a further 2 years then you would be able to reapply to the registered at the proprietor of the property without anyone having the ability to oppose the application.
If the Land is unregistered you must show possession of the land and have the necessary intention to possess the land without the owner’s consent, as with registered properties above. However, this must be the case for at least 12 years, before any claim/application can be made.
Please note, there are exceptions to these rules and therefore, if you would like more information in this regard and would like to investigate making a claim, please contact a member of the Residential Conveyancing Team.
What Class of Title could the Land Registry issue after a successful application?
Title Absolute is the highest, and most common, class of Title. If a property benefits from Title Absolute, it means the Land Registry has been satisfied that the complete legal estate is vested in the legal owner (proprietor) and that the proprietor can dispose of the property (i.e., Transfer or Sell) as they wish.
This Class of Title is more likely to be awarded when an adverse possession claim has been made or if the Title could not be adequately proved because the old Title Deeds may have been lost or destroyed. This is therefore classed as a defect in the title and could affect the market value of the property and any future sales.
It is important to highlight that should another person be able to persuade the Land Registry that they should be entitled to a higher class of title (i.e. Absolute) then the Land Registry may amend the register and it is unlikely there would be any claim for losses.
If you are purchasing a property with possessory title and you are obtaining a mortgage, consent of the Lender would need to be sought before the transaction could complete.
It is urged that Indemnity Insurance is taken out for any property with possessory title so protect any owner, successor in title or lender against a third party staking a claim in the property. Indemnity Insurance usually covers compensation if a third party makes a claim, or if there is a drop in the market value of the property if the land has to be surrendered.
Can a property with possessory title be upgraded?
In short, yes. Once a property with possessory title has been registered for 12 uninterrupted years, a request can be made to the Land Registry to upgrade the Title to Title Absolute.
How can Ellisons help?
If you would like to make a claim for adverse possession, please book an appointment with one of the Residential Conveyancing Team. The Conveyancer can then explore the nature of your claim and discuss the next steps with you.