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How To Claim Adverse Possession in Ireland
what you need to know
The law on adverse possession (or squatter's rights) differs depending on whether the land in question is registered or unregistered title.
If you've lived in a property or have been using a piece of land for a considerable period of time and you want to be the registered owner of it, then this is something which you might be interest in.
Depending on the particular facts of the case, adverse possession / squatter's rights is one way that you may be able to do this.
In this article we discuss what steps you need to take and some of the hurdles you need to jump through in order to succeed in an adverse possession claim.
What is adverse possession?
Adverse possession (or squatters rights as it is sometimes known) is based on the act of taking exclusive possession of land owned by another person for a fixed period of time. To succeed in a claim for adverse possession, it is necessary to show that the true owner was dispossessed and that the squatter’s use and occupation of the lands was made with the intention of acquiring possession.
Possession is an important part of an adverse possession claim. As to possession, it must be considered in every case with reference to the particular circumstances. The acts which are suitable to imply possession in one case may not be adequate to prove it in another case.
Whether adverse possession can be deemed to exist depends on an examination of the facts and circumstances of each case.
How long does an applicant have to be in possession to validly claim adverse possession?
A person in adverse possession acquires title after 12 years of uninterrupted possession. In the case of a claim to the estate of a deceased person, under a Will or intestacy, Section 126 of the Succession Act provides that such claim is statute barred after 6 years.
It is important to mention that a personal representative of a deceased owner steps into the place of that deceased owner and has 12 years to recover the property from any person in adverse possession.
Procedure for Adverse Possession claim over registered land
An application for adverse possession is made to the Land Registry. As part of the Squatter’s application to the Land Registry for registration as owner of the adversely possessed piece of land, the following documents will need to be lodged:
- Form 6 with exhibits – this is essentially a declaration stating how and for how long you have taken possession of the relevant piece of land. This declaration should be comprehensive and detailed. It should include when the applicant entered into possession, the uses he made of the property and full setting out of the acts of possession. In addition it should trace the title to the property from the registered owner. It should state the names and addressed of all persons whom the applicant claims to have barred.
- PRA compliant Map – required where the piece of land in question forms part of a separate folio.
- Fees – Land Registry fees of €130.
- Application Form incorporating LR Form 17.
- Capital Acquisitions Tax (Consolidation) Act, 2003 Certificate - no person can be registered as owner of property based on possession unless this certificate is produced to the Land Registry
Applicants should note that the Land Registry serves notices on persons who they believe to be affected by the application. This can include the registered owners of the relevant piece of land, personal representatives and adjoining landowners. The notice will give details of the squatter’s claim.
What can you do if your application is refused by the Land Registry?
If a squatter's application is refused, they can make a further application for registration if they remain in adverse possession for a further period of two years. That application will succeed unless, during the two years since the first application, the 'paper' owner has taken steps to regain possession of the land or to put in place a lease or licence to permit continued occupation.
Objections to the squatter’s registration must be made in writing by interested parties within a reasonable timeframe. Depending on the nature of the objection and the legal grounds for the objection, the Land Registry may reject them and proceed to register, refuse to register or refer the matter to court for decision.
Anyone considering making an adverse possession claim should consider the above.
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