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The pitfalls of claiming 'squatters' rights'

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A recent case involving Stadium Capital Holdings (No.2) Ltd v St. Marylebone Property Company Plc (2009) illustrates the difficulties faced by those claiming ‘squatters’ rights’, also known as adverse possession.

The case focussed on the erection of a hoarding and a platform on Stadium’s property. Stadium’s predecessors had previously given permission for the hoarding to be erected but Stadium later withdrew this permission.

St. Marylebone argued that since permission had been withdrawn for them to place a hoarding and platform on Stadium’s property, their continued period of use of the land constituted adverse possession, but the Court didn’t agree. While the claim failed on other points too, the Court ruled that because permission had been given and later revoked, then the possession could not be adverse.

This highlights the difficulties faced by a party now seeking to claim adverse possession since the Land Registration Act 2002 came into force. While the Act has been in force for several years now, when the alleged possession started and how the land has been possessed must be carefully considered.

If you believe that you own a piece of land because it has been in your possession for many years but it does not appear on your deeds, it is important that you seek legal advice to check the position. The rules are very complicated and dependent upon when the possession started and for how long, very differing rules and requirements may apply.

Our Land solicitors have vast experience in dealing with this type of dispute and can provide you with advice to suit your requirements, whether you are trying to recover a piece of land or claim it as yours.