I’ve been here longer than you!

Prior to 2003 a squatter could acquire ownership of a property after 12 years possession provided the possession was without force, secrecy or consent.

This rule still applies where a squatter can show that he has completed his 12 year period of adverse possession before 2003. In that event, he remains entitled to apply for immediate registration as owner of the property. Since 2003, in relation to registered land, a squatter can only be registered if he makes an application to the Land Registry evidencing 10 years’ occupation.

Notice is then given to the true owner and only if the true owner fails to evict the squatter within two years thereafter, will the squatter acquire legal title. The effect is that as the years go by it will become increasingly difficult for a squatter to assert adverse possession rights in relation to registered land.