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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10955
Experience:  Barrister 17 years experience
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Madam At the back of my house there is a strip

Customer Question

Dear Sir / Madam
At the back of my house there is a strip of registered land which my neighbour and I have managed maintained and kept for the last 12/13 years with no sign of the original owner. We originally planned to make a claim at the beginning of 2015 but at the beginning of 2014 a new neighbour moved in beside us and we entered into protracted conversations with this couple about a joint ownership claim / use which had many problems of its own. After a disagreement we were then notified a week later by this couple that they had bought this land and it was now in their own name. Obviously we were not vet happy but we are wondering ……
1. Whether we have any counter claim or is this something we should just take on the chin.
2. If we do have any counterclaim is there any timeline by which we should legally notify anyone and if so how?
Yours sincerely
Brendan Purcell
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hi Brendan and thanks for using Just Answer.
My name is ***** ***** am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
I am afraid you are out of time to do anything about this and you would not get anywhere at all with any counterclaim, for the following reasons-
Whenever a party wishes to "claim" land owned by a third party, they must make an application to the Land Registry for possessory title of the land under the law of adverse possession. Until an application has been made, the party has no legal rights of ownership.
Furthermore, such an application would only be successful if it can be proved that the property to whom the applicant owns, has had EXCLUSIVE possession of the "claimed land" for 10 years or more, and the legal owner of the claimed land did not dispute the application.
As it appears that the claimed land has been used by both you and another property, any joint claim made by both you and the neighbouring property would have failed. Only if your property, and your property alone, had fenced in the claimed land and the claimed land had formed an integral part of your garden and no third party has access to it, would any claim for possessory title be successful. It does not sound to me that this is the case, but if I am incorrect, please let me know!
As regards ***** ***** you may have against the individual neighbour and his predecessor, the fact that you may have planned a joint application has no legal standing I am afraid- someone can't sue another party just because they had discussed a matter- only if this agreement had been documented in a legally binding agreement would it hold any legal relevance.
I am sorry this is not the answer you were looking for, but it sets out the legal position.
Kind Regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear AlThank you for your response and you answer was what I expected but did need to confirmRe: "Only if your property, and your property alone, had fenced in the claimed land and the claimed land had formed an integral part of your garden and no third party has access to it, would any claim for possessory title be successful" ........................the land was fenced in with a private access gate from the neighbour who had helped with me to maintain from the bottom of her garden. The only other access was via a gate in a private gated alleyway to 6 houses.Re: "only if this agreement had been documented in a legally binding agreement would it hold any legal relevance" ................We did document our discussions with the new neighbours with some minutes and e-mails to all parties to attain a common understanding and some of this was via a solicitor who was originally going to make the claim on behalf of us all.We were not sure if we had any case but our feeling is that the neighbour in question has simply stalled our application until they had done their own homework and played on our neighbourly generosity. If there is still something that can be done great if not then so be itKind regardsBrendan
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 2 years ago.
Hi Brendan,
Thanks for your reply.
I'm not 100% clear whether the "claimed land" was therefore fenced in and formed part of your garden? You mention the neighbour helped put in a gate, but I need to know if the claimed land was beyond the boundary of your current garden and if so, who had access to it?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi AlIt is confusing as the houses are approx 200yrs old and there are a number of boundary quirks in the area.1. Essentially there is a gate at the bottom of my immediate neighbours garden (which I have access to)
2. This opens into another garden area which is completely fenced all around with one other gate entrance via the alleway(which we foolishly opened up some years ago).
3. My neighbour and I maintain this area but the far part of it was owned/registered by a third party whom has not been seen for all these years and so we maintained it.
4. The new neighbour having stalled our application has now bought this strip with access via the alleyway gate and fenced his section off.Essentially though in answer to your question only my immediate neighbour (the nice one) was able to walk across her own land and onto the claimed land without any boundary / fenced obstacle.
Hope this makes senseBrendan
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
1. Dear *****, the original Expert who answered your Question has opted out. So I will assist you with the answer.2. I do not wish to burst your bubble but your neighbour here has figured out the legal position quicker than you did and acted to pull the rug from under you. Since 2003, in England & Wales, no ownership to registered land exists unless it is registered with the land registry. Title to registered land, as this piece is, doesn't exist unless it is registered. Accordingly, there no longer is such a thing as title by possession, so far as registered land is concerned. Accordingly, you cannot now seek to claim ownership of this strip today, based on adverse possession or squatter's rights, because the law no longer recognises title created by possession of the land only. Your neighbour figured this out quicker than you did. This is why he bought the strip, even though you had possession of it. He correctly figured out that having possession of the land gave you no rights to it. So your neighbour, who has now got the paper title or registered title, can now eject you, whenever he pleases, from the piece you occupy. 3. I am afraid this has been the situation since 2003. So your possession of this piece of land gives you no rights to you. What you needed to do, was to purchase the paper title yourself, if you wanted to own it. Occupying it gave you no rights as a squatter's title is no longer recognised in law, so far as registered land is concerned. As this piece of land is registered land, your squatting on it gives you no legal rights to it. Although the fact you squatted on it, probably reduced the price for your neighbour to buy it from the owner.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Dear MrCustomer
Thank you for your response, bubble maybe burst but will survive however I do want to understand fully the detail though. We have lived in harmony with all past neighbours until of recent. The land issue was a general consent to maintain/register and all could use it until the new neighbours in question arrived.I do understand that adverse possesion of land for 12yrs will no longer count but thought that after 10 years possession we were then entitled to register such in place of the registered proprietor which in turn notifies the registered owner and is then given the opportunity to oppose. However the discussions with our new neighbours has waylaid these plans and whilst in discussion he has bought the said plot. Your answer I'm sure remains the same but I would like to know if all has been by the book and close the case per se or if any objection can be made based on the discussions/correspondence/agreements with said neighbour.If the answer is that being nice unfortunately does have its pitfalls and draw a line under it then that finalises it or do you have any comments to add?Regards..Brendan
Expert:  Buachaill replied 2 years ago.
4. The bot***** *****ne is that adverse possession to registered land was effectively abolished in 2003. So what you may have thought was the law, no longer exists. Your new neighbour figured this out quicker than you did. So, you should just chalk it down to experience and get legal advice earlier in the course of adopting a course of action which has legal consequences. My best advice would be to simply chalk it down to experience. Even as a professional lawyer, I get caught out in my own personal affairs when the law changes and I haven't caught up with it. It is not something that only lay people experience.