How squatter's rights help resolve boundary disputes

Mark Cummings

It is very common for a boundary dispute to arise when neighbours have a disagreement about where the legal boundary between their properties lies.

The starting point to decide where the actual legal boundary lies, should always involve studying the deeds to the two properties.

If at all possible, the owners should try and reach an agreement as to the location of the legal boundary as boundary disputes can be long-running, expensive and stressful to deal with.

If the neighbours can reach an amicable agreement, it should be recorded in a Settlement Agreement and/or recorded on a HM Land Registry compliant plan, which should then be registered against the respective titles of the property.

The situation could be very different however, if one of the parties has adverse possession, or "squatter's rights" over the property belonging to their neighbour. 

This could arise if a boundary has been in an incorrect position for either 10 or 12 years (depending upon when the adverse possession started). If the occupier of the land can meet the relevant criteria, they can claim adverse possession of the land, regardless of where the true boundary between the properties lies. 

If one party is in a position to claim squatter's rights over disputed boundary land, they need to make an application to the Land Registry for inclusion of the land in their title. The adjacent land owner is permitted to raise an objection to the application.

If you have a dispute with a neighbour over a boundary, it is always worth consdiering whether you can claim squatter's rights over the disputed land. This can be a clever way of avoiding lengthy, costly and uncertain litigation.

At Samuels Solicitors LLP, based in Devon, we have many decades of experience in dealing with boundary disputes and adverse possession claims. 

Contact us today to see if you can resolve your boundary dispute using the adverse possession procedure.