Thanks for your patience.
The law relating to adverse possession of land in the circumstances you have described can be very complicated and often times become very litigious.
Adverse possession ( or the 12 year rule referred to by you) would allow an individual who is in possession of land to acquire rights over that land in certain circumstances, even though they are not the ‘formal’ owner of the land. in order to claim adverse possession, however, a squatter must show that they have been in factual possession of the land, with the necessary intention to possess and without the owner’s consent. To establish adverse possession, your neighbour would need to show any of the following:
- where a land owner encouraged a squatter to believe they owned the land. Having done so, the squatter acted on that belief to their detriment, the owner of the land was aware of this and it would be “unconscionable” for the owner to deny the squatter the rights that they believed they had.
- where a squatter is able to establish there entitlement to be registered as the proprietor of the land for some other reason. For example where a squatter entered into a contract to buy land and paid the purchase price, but title was not formally transferred.
- where a squatter has been in adverse possession of land adjacent to their own for at least 10 years under the mistaken belief that they are the owner, the exact boundary line has not been determined and the land was registered more than a year prior to the application.
Based on the above, the situation you have described falls primarily within the third category. It seems to me that your neighbour has occupied this land for several years under the mistaken belief that the land belonged to them. The difficulty with arguing that the previous owner was essentially forced of their land is that you would have to demonstrate a factual history of giving this neighbour notice of your interest in the land and that there was no implicit consent on your part ( or the previous owners) to their occupation of the land.
I must be candid in saying that you may experience difficulty with this one and could face a situation where your neighbour could exert an interest over the land.
That being said, I would recommend at the very least that you do undertake mediation. This in my opinion would be the most amicable and cost effective way to resolve this as your proposals do seem fair.
Hope I clarified things for you. Kindly let me know if I may be of further assistance.
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All the best