Thanks for your question.
What you are looking to do is known as adverse possession. Adverse possession is the process by which a person who is not the legal owner of theland can become the legal owner by possessing theland for a specified period of time.
There are two elements to a claim for adverse possession, regardless of whether the claim is in respect of registered or unregistered land.
To claim title by adverse possession, the claimant needs to prove the following:
Uninterrupted factual possession of the land by the claimant for the requisite period.
Intention on the part of the claimant to possess theland during that period of possession.
There must be a sufficient degree of exclusive physical control over the land. What is sufficient will depend on the circumstances and, in particular, the nature of the land and the manner in which land of that nature is commonly used. Broadly, the person inpossession must have been dealing with the land as an occupying owner might have been expected to deal with it, and no one else must have done so.
The squatter must establish that it intended to possess the land during the period of possession.
This must be an intention to possess in the squatter's own name, on its own behalf and to the exclusion of all others (including the owner with the paper title), so far as is reasonably practicable and so far as the processes of law will allow.
In short, has the squatter has been in possession of the land in the ordinary sense of the word for the requisite period, for unregistered land this is 12 years, without the consent of the owner.
Therefore if you have fenced off the land, tended it, occupied it as your own for a period of 12 years then you have a potential claim.
You say you have checked with the land registry. have you done an index map search, this is where you submit a plan of an area you want to search and they will let you know if it is registered by disclosing the title numbers.
Even if the land is registered you can still claim adverse possession, the criteria is the same but the requisite period is only 10 years.
I hope the above helps. Let me know if you have any queries.
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I am just following up on my email of yesterday. Do you have any queries? I hope my comments clarify the position.