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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10737
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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We have lived in or current house for just over twenty-five

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We have lived in or current house for just over twenty-five years. Our neighbour of five years is telling us that the gardens of the estate were set out incorrectly, prior to our buying, and that a strip of our front garden (approx 1m wide by 3m long) actually belongs to her house (deeds show this is correct). About eight years ago we had a portion of our front lawn made over to a hard-standing for a car, not knowing that this strip of land was not ours - part of this hard-standing takes up the strip of land.

I have been told about something called 'descriptive rights'(?) where our use of the land, believing it to be ours, over the time we have lived here gives us some sort of 'right' to it!

Am I legally required to hand back this strip of land to her?
Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

There are 2 areas of law applicable to your situation-

1. Where a party uses someone else's land, without objection, for 20 years or more, that party acquires a "prescriptive right" to carry on using the land for the purpose they have been using it for (eg for parking). Although you no doubt have maintained the land for 25 years, your use of the land for parking has only been for 8 years so you would be unsuccessful in showing you have acquired a prescriptive right.

2. Where a party possesses land belonging to a third party, without objection or consent, for 12 years or more, that party can apply to the Land Registry for "possessory title" of that land. In order to be successful, you must show that you have "taken ownership" of the land (eg, normally by fencing in the land and using it as your own, and therefore preventing the true owner from gaining access to it). Other ways of showing "possession" would be if you have maintained the land yourselves/used it for parking etc.

This second option would be your best chance of securing ownership of the land. However, I am guessing that the land has not been fenced in by you, so you may find it hard to prove "possession for 12 years". If I were you, I would still go and see a local Conveyancing Solicitor about the merits of making such an application to the Land Registry. The fact that your neighbour has now disputed your use of the land would NOT, in itself, prevent you from making an application to the Land Registry.

I hope this assists and sets out the legal position to you.

Kind Regards
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Al! Many thanks! This gives us a 'definite' opinion on what a number of people have said but couldn't confirm.