It might be. But even if it is –  you may be able to claim that it is now actually yours.

This is thanks to something called “adverse possession” i.e. where someone who is not the owner of land possesses it to the exclusion of others (has sole use of it) for a period of time.

For example, there is a fence between your property and your neighbour, and you have used and maintained the garden space (as well as the fence) within it as your own since you brought the property some years ago. New neighbours move in and are now seeking to enforce the legal boundary which according to the title deeds encompasses some of the land you have been using and maintaining as your own.

Not so fast!

The legal boundary can change thanks to adverse possession. You must prove that:

  1. you have factual possession of the land
  2. you intended to possess the land as your own
  3. the possession is without the owner’s consent
  4. that all of the above has been true for the requisite period

The requisite period is:

  • 12 years for unregistered land
  • 12 years for land that is registered but the adverse possession period occurred before 13 October 2003
  • 10 years for land that is registered but the adverse possession period did not occur before 13 October 2003

The occupation of the land has to be factual i.e. the person wishing to acquire it is using it as his own on a regular basis, uninterrupted, and that he or she intended to occupy the land as their own. Erecting a fence around the said land or cordoning it off is a positive indicator of adverse possession. As is dealing with the land as the original owner would have been expected to such as cutting the grass, maintaining the boundary etc.

If you have been possessing the land in question for the requisite period and meet all the criteria,  you can simply make an application to alter you and your neighbour’s title plans to show the new boundary.

The same applies the other way round so be careful – if your neighbour who you are on good terms with has been using a strip of your land as his own, for example by parking his car on it and cordoning off the area for his exclusive use by way of fitting a chain between two posts and you have let this continue without challenging it for the requisite period, then your neighbour can claim they have acquired this land by adverse possession.

Here at whichfenceismine we have numerous customers asking us whether we can determine the position of their boundary according to the title deeds. Whilst we can certainly obtain, review and report on the title deeds (in conjunction with a surveyor in our comprehensive package) as to to the likely legal boundary between you and your neighbour – you should bear in mind that legal boundaries may change as a result of adverse possession. We will always advise you of this in our reports so that you are fully informed of what action to take next.

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article