Q&A Can developer throw us off strip of no-man’s land we have used for 42 years?

Q: We bought our house 42 years ago. Until a year ago there were open fields behind us. Then in 2020 developers bought the fields, got planning permission and have now built 30 houses on it. We only had a small rear garden as our main garden is at the front.  Our neighbours had moved their boundary into the field beyond the original boundary and we did likewise so that it was in line with our neighbour’s boundary line.   Now the developers have sent us a letter telling us to move our boundary fence back to what it was originally. Can they do this when we have used the land for 42 years?

A: Without knowing all the facts, it is difficult to advise you. However, the Developers will have registered the land following their purchase of it.  If the land you are in occupation of falls within their boundary, then provided you have occupied it continuously without interruption, without permission or consent and without objection to the exclusion of all others for more than 10 years (12 years for unregistered land) you may be able to make a claim for Adverse Possession.   Each application for adverse possession does turn on its own set of unique facts.

If your claim is successful, it is likely you will be granted freehold Possessory Title.

A Possessory Title is not quite as good as an Absolute title and after the title has been registered for 12 years an application to upgrade to Absolute Title can be made.

A Possessory Title may put some buyers off buying a property as it is not as attractive to potential purchasers because it implies there is a title defect, but this can be mitigated in most cases by taking out Possessory Title Indemnity insurance. 

Making a claim for adverse possession can be a complex process, so you may wish to seek more tailored legal advice.

This question has been answered by Sêra Henderson-Jones, a Chartered Legal Executive with GHP Legal. 

If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter, book an appointment by visiting GHP Legal or contacting one of our offices:

Wrexham Office

Email: wrexham@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01978 291456

Llangollen Office:

Email: llangollen@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01978 860313

Oswestry Office:

Email: oswestry@ghplegal.com

Phone: 01691 659194

Sera Jones

Sêra Henderson-Jones

Chartered Legal Executive

Part of our Property team in Oswestry.