Householder loses legal fight to keep land taken over by neighbour
A householder has lost ownership of a strip of land outside his home after a neighbour started using it and then claimed it as hers under the principle of adverse possession.
The case involved a grass verge that was close to the neighbour’s property. The neighbour started using in 1999 and maintained it as if it belonged to her. The owner of the verge did not object or assert his ownership.
In 2012, the neighbour applied to the Land Registry to register title to the verge by adverse possession. The owner opposed her application but the Land Tribunal found that the neighbour had been in factual possession of the verge with intention to possess it since 1999.
This meant that by February 2012, under the Limitation Act 1980, she had become entitled to claim ownership herself.
The original owner appealed saying that the neighbour had not had possession of the verge for 12 years because she had not used it exclusively or continuously, and it had in fact been used by other neighbours as well.
However, the Upper Tribunal upheld the original decision. It said there was more than enough evidence to support the tribunal's conclusion that the neighbour’s acts had demonstrated to the whole world her intention to incorporate the verge as part of her property. Throughout this time, the original owner had done nothing to assert his right to ownership.
Please contact Janice Young if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating to property law and neighbour disputes.