I have a question about adverse possession. Our Neighbour placed a fence between two semi detached properties some considerable distance onto our ground. 2feet at one end and about 5 feet at the other. This happened about 30 years ago. At the time, the contractor who put up the fence was asked to move it back but ignored the request. Being new to a village and not wishing to fall out with the locals (the contractor being one of them), the matter was not escalated. There is now the beginnings of a dispute over where the fence should be. It is clearly shown on the deeds and one would assume, the fence should come out at 90 degrees to the houses (as the property line does on the opposite side of the house). Does adverse possession apply here and could he claim that land. The land is registered and marked clearly on the deeds.
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.
My name is ***** ***** am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
Adverse possession applies in all cases where a party possesses land which is not owned by them, without dispute or express consent of the paper owner, for a period of 10 years, where the land is registered at the Land Registry.
In order to be successful in the application to the Land Registry, the party also has to show that they have "possessed" the land to the exclusion of the paper owner.
It would normally be sufficient to prove this "possession" if a fence is in place, and the Land Registry Surveyor would inspect to check this, following receipt of any application.
Your neighbour would therefore be entitled to make an application for possessory title under the adverse possession laws, PROVIDED he could show he has possessed the land for at leat 10 years without dispute or the express consent from you. I note you disputed the fence line originally, but if you have let matters remain as they are for the last 10 years or more and have not carried out any positive act to show that you dispute the boundary, you may find it hard to defend any application made by your neighbour. If, of course, you have written to the neighbour in the last 10 years ago disputing the fence line or there was a document drawn up basically stating you both acknowledge that the fence is in the wrong position, then these would be sufficient grounds to defeat any application made by your neighbour. Without either of these, I fear you may be struggling to defend any such application.
I hope this assists you and sets out the legal position.
I understand the law changed on this around 2003.
Does he still need to apply for the land or as the fence was put up pre - 2003, is the land automatically his?
The fence is partly hedge and partly woven branches.
Are we legally Ok to cut back to the centre of the hedge and then put up our own fence? To make the best of a bad situation?
This will mean about 2 feet of our house is actually in his garden. Do we have to ask his permission to maintain this?
Thanks for your reply.
The only change in the law was the procedure involved in claiming registered land, in that the Land Registry now serve Notice on the paper owner and ask if they have any objections to the application being made.
So, your neighbour does indeed still need to apply to the Land Registry if he wishes to claim the land. Just because the fence is there does not mean he has automatically aquired the legal title to the land- he just has physical ownership at this stage.
As regards ***** ***** itself, you are entitled to do as you mention, and you would not need to seek the neighbour's consent/permission before doing so.
My last question:
The fence has collapsed and is non existent in places. We have a gardener who regularly comes through a gap the fence to mow the lawn for both our garden and our neighbours.
If we argued that we do have access to the land, which would be impossible to disprove, would that void his argument to possession?
Many thanks! Dave
Sorry for the delay.
Although there is a gap in the hedge line, you would have to show that you personally have been using the land/accessing it on a regular basis. Therefore, you would be skating on thin ice trying to use the gardener's use of the land as a defence, but you can always try!