The newspapers delight in the lottery windfall effect of, for example, a smallholder gaining possession of acres of valuable development land because they have been using it for more than 12 years.
Occupiers who aspire to such riches should note that the rules have now changed for the worse. Although the time period has been shortened to 10 years in the case of registered land the Land Registry will give notice to the true owner who then has 65 business days in which to object and all, of course, will do so once notified. Experience shows that the Land Registry require a very heavy burden of proof to register a squatter. There are particular complications for bits of back garden which have been occupied.
However, people who have already occupied land for 12 years have until 13 October 2006 to try to get possessory title under the old rules and they would be well advised to do so as it is generally agreed in the legal profession that the old rules give a better chance of success
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.