Squatters Rights Illegal?
The UK's approach to 'squatters' rights' (known in legal circles as adverse possession) may be unlawful according to a ruling by the European Court.
Under UK law, anyone who is allowed unopposed occupation of a piece of land for more than twelve years can acquire legal title to the land. Although
numerous safeguards were introduced in the Land Registration Act 2002, which introduced a system of notices before the title could be transferred, this continues to be the case. However, the decision by the European Court in a case involving 56 acres of grazing land in Oxfordshire was that it would breach the human rights of the original owners if the title were to pass without any compensation being paid. The land in question, which had planning permission attached, was estimated to be worth £10m.
Giving notices to owners of land should reduce the frequency with which ownership by adverse possession is claimed. However, there is still much unregistered land and so it can be difficult to establish exactly who owns a particular portion of land in order to give the required notices.
Property owners will be relieved to know that the title to their land can no longer be removed from them without compensation simply by someone occupying it for the required period.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.