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‘Adverse Possession’ is the legal term for situations where someone other than the true owner of a piece of land is in possession of it, usually without the knowledge or permission of the true owner. In the past, if an owner could prove that they had continually occupied a piece of land for an unbroken period of 12 years, they were entitled to register themselves as the owner at the Land Registry, even if the true owner objected.

Since 2003, the rules applying to adverse possession have changed considerably and, although it is still possible to claim adverse possession of certain land if 12 years’ occupation could be shown (usually where the present ownership of the land in question is not recorded at the Land Registry), the situation is far more complicated for most areas of land. Different rules apply depending on the length of the occupation and the date on which the occupation commenced.

In many cases, claims under the new rules require the consent of the true owner before it is possible for the occupier of the land to be registered as the owner, which can prove costly in the event that the true owner objects to the application and can also lead to the true owner taking action to recover possession. Such applications may be considered risky and as a result, the occupier might wish to seek an indemnity insurance policy that provides protection in the event of the true owner taking steps to deny the continued possession of the land, instead of applying for ownership at Land Registry.

We can assist clients and advise on the potential outcome of a claim for adverse possession of land before deciding to go ahead. If you decide to proceed with the claim, we will also prepare the necessary declarations, plans and the Land Registry application for you. We can also look to put into place indemnity insurance policies for your protection should you consider these to be an appropriate alternative.

If you are interested in using Ryan Property Law to help you with a potential adverse possession claim, please click on the link below and we will do our best to assist.

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Peter & Sandra, Bridlington


The Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) provides a quality standard mark for lawyers in residential conveyancing is also recognised by many mortgage lenders. We were one of the first firms in West Yorkshire to be awarded the accreditation.