Adverse possession is a legal belief that enables someone to gain ownership of a piece of land that is not legally theirs. Commonly known as squatter’s rights, it lets people possess the land they do not legally own. A real estate lawyer comes across the implementation of this rule very often. It is one of the most commonly encountered cases across the globe, including the United Kingdom.
What is adverse possession from the perspective of a real estate lawyer?
The rule of adverse possession states that individuals can eventually claim rights to a property that is not legally theirs. However, an individual must live on the property for a long period. This doctrine holds true only when an individual resides on a property that is not rightfully theirs for a significant amount of time.
If a real estate lawyer is successful in proving that the land comes under adverse possession, petitioners are not required to pay any charges. Moreover, such occupants inhabit this land solely to secure legal rights to the property.
The law suggests that it will favor any person who uses the land for productive activities over ones who don’t. Additionally, properties like driveways, unused agricultural land or neglected properties comprise of the list of properties under adverse possession. The concept is fairly easy to comprehend, as most clauses are rather straightforward. However, a real estate lawyer can help with it in a better way.
What is the impact of adverse possession?
Adverse possession is not enough for someone to claim legal rights to a property. However, a reliable real estate lawyer would use adverse possession to create stronger cases in the court of law. There are certain legal requirements all applicants must fulfill. After this, they can move forward with the cases. A real estate lawyer would say that the process is very lengthy.
Who can claim adverse possession?
Making claims for adverse possession is not as easy as they sound. Here are a few things that all applicants need to prove before they can move forward with their plans.
· Must possess the property at a continuous stretch.
· Other people are aware that they have occupied this land.
· The property is completely their own, no one else uses it.
· They pay their taxes and maintain the property with their funds.
· They do not possess a license to occupy the property or have a rental agreement from the legal owners.
What if the occupant has a criminal record?
In the UK, squatting in a residential building is criminalized under section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. This section clearly states that a squatter in no way benefits from his criminal history. This further implies that a squatter cannot occupy a property through adverse possession in such cases.
It also states that a person who acquires a property through illegal means/transactions is not liable to adverse possession. Moreover, fraudsters cannot acquire property through this if the owner’s rights are not paid heed to. However, these cases come with a limitation period. This period begins when the crime was first registered and varies from one case to another.
Which land is immune to squatting?
A person cannot acquire certain properties through adverse possession. These properties are immune to this rule. No one can legally claim them irrespective of how much time they spend occupying these spaces.
In most cases, adverse possession exempts government-owned land from its rules. This may include highways, public roads, and other public commute thoroughfares. The title for this land vests in the highway authorities, making it unavailable for possession by anyone else.
In the United Kingdom, a person cannot claim riverbeds through this rule. Houseboats may be anchored along these riverbeds. However, the title of this property belongs to the river authority, so it cannot be possessed by civilians.
Adverse possession and flats
According to the Privy Council, a person can own land in a horizontal layer. Therefore, it implies that flats are property that can be possessed by people through adverse possession. So, residential buildings with layered flats can be subject to adverse possession by people. Therefore, help from a real estate lawyer can be a great way to get a clearer understanding of the issues.
A real estate lawyer can fight for you if you have someone claiming your property as their own. Additionally, they can fight for your claim to a property through adverse possession too. So, this straightforward rule can help you build a strong case for your right to the property!