Adverse Possession - owner deceased

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    Adverse Possession - owner deceased

    Hello,

    I’m trying to find out if I can attempt an adverse possession on a piece of registered land which also has a static caravan on it.

    - the land is registered in the deceased’s name
    - there is no will / probate (that I can find)
    - I will hopefully have a death certificate soon to find out who registered the death


    I know there is issue with the named title holder being dead and that AP may not be granted because of that? And if the land was taken by the Crown I would then have to be in possession of the land for 30 years. I also understand that if I were to enter the static caravan that would be a criminal offence as opposed to just possessing the land.

    Just wondering what the best course of action might be?
    With adverse possession of land, as well as showing I was in possession of the land to the exclusion of others how often would I need to visit and be there?

    Many thanks for your help and if this should be a separate post could someone point me in the right direction!

    Best wishes

    #2
    I am not aware of any issue with the registered proprietor being dead.

    If we are talking about a plot of land not adjoining your own so that it can be incorporated with, it must be occupied in some meaningful way. The following are insufficient:

    · Fencing the land if not already fenced.
    · Putting up a sign saying "Private property Keep off".
    · Having a pic-nic on the land once a year and taking photos.
    · Keeping the land tidy and free of weeds.

    You need to be doing something like the following:

    · Growing vegetables.
    · Keeping animals.
    · Using the land for more than token storage.
    · Erecting and using structures on the land.
    · Using the land for some purpose such as schooling horses.
    · Getting some services connected to the land and keeping the bills in your name.

    (Some of the above may need planning permission.)


    Comment


      #3
      Hello,
      Thank you so much for your advice - with regards to the issue with a deceased title owner I read this on the gov website:
      3. Restrictions on making an application for registration based on adverse possession

      The following circumstances prevent an application being made for registration based on adverse possession
      • the registered proprietor is an enemy or detained in enemy territory, or has been an enemy or detained in enemy territory in the 12 months before the date of the application (Schedule 6, paragraph 8(1) of the Land Registration Act 2002)
      • the registered proprietor is unable because of mental disability to make decisions about issues of the kind to which an application for adverse possession would give rise, or is unable to communicate such decisions because of mental disability or physical impairment (Schedule 6, paragraph 8(2) of the Land Registration Act 2002)
      • the squatter is a defendant in proceedings which involve asserting a right to possession of the land, or judgment for possession has been given against them in the last 2 years (Schedule 6, paragraph 1(3) of the Land Registration Act 2002)
      • the estate in land was held on trust at any time during the period of 10 years ending on the date of the application, unless the interest of each of the beneficiaries in the estate was an interest in possession (Schedule 6, paragraph 12 of the Land Registration Act 2002)
        • arguably this means that an application cannot be made where, at any point during this period, the registered proprietor at the time (i) was dead and their estate was being administered, (ii) was bankrupt and their property was being administered by the trustee in bankruptcy or (iii) (being a company) was being wound up. In each of these cases the registered estate is subject to a form of trust (Ayerst v C & K (Construction) Ltd [1976] A.C. 167
      The registered proprietor is dead but as far as I can tell the estate isn’t being administered.

      with regards to using the buildings currently on-site would it be advisable to not enter the static caravan as it would be classed as residential and subsequently criminal or could I just use it as / class it as office space ?
      thanks again for your help!

      Comment


        #4
        I see the Land Registry says that it is "arguable" that Schedule 6, paragraph 12 of the Land Registration Act 2002 applies in the case where the estate of a deceased proprietor is being administered. I think we will have to await a case to determine if it does apply.

        The Act that makes trespass by entering a residential building criminal defines a building as including a removable structure.

        When going into adverse possession of land the advice always has to be not to incur too much expense or trouble in case you are disappointed. Go into it without too much of an eye to the future thinking that if you successfully complete the relevant period and secure registration as the proprietor it will be a bonus.

        Comment


          #5
          Hello,
          Many thanks for your help again. If you don’t mind I have a few more questions (I hope that’s OK!):

          - The property is still in the deceased’s name (I’m yet to confirm but I believe she died in 2013) - Ive been led to believe the person who reported her death may a very distant relative. Regardless of the title being in the deceased’s name would that relative/beneficiary now be the legal owner of the property? - just keen not to embark on an AP that is doomed to failure if there’s issue with the title owner being deceased.
          - I have checked the bona vacantia list and the estate is not listed
          - I have checked for wills and probate - nothing there either - would that indicate that there is a beneficiary/administrator?
          My reason for asking is that maybe then if I’m attempting adverse possession that the property is owned but by someone who just hasn’t transferred the title into their name?
          - when and how does the Crown try and claim the property?

          - Do you know of any guide/manual to successful adverse possession - step by step?
          - I’m very keen to have made every possible bit of research to ensure I don’t trip myself up down the line
          - I’m want to ensure I know the best process and how to address neighbours, local authorities and potentially any administrators/beneficiaries should I be challenged / questioned
          - who am I answerable to once in the process of possessing the property - is there protocol? Is it only any possible heir or can a neighbour report me to the police/authorities? And what may they do?
          - Just to confirm - would it be best to possess the land as previously discussed but just leave the static caravan within the plot alone ? Maybe just clean the outside of it?
          - it looks like one of the neighbours has ‘claimed’ part of the properties land - I can see from current the LR title map and from visiting the plot that this has occurred. I’m guessing this is beneficial to keeping him on side?
          - on the title maps it shows where building were - I have images of the buildings from ground level. Would I need planning to re erect on the same foot prints (not residential) - or could I just replace them? They weren’t particularly large, largest looks to have been around a double garage size
          - there is a small plot within the title on the opposite side of the road - that plot sits within a larger plot of disused scrub land - I’m trying to find out if its registered/un registered through LR but can only find property details and not land details, do you know where to locate details of land ownership? And depending on what I find is it wise to enclose the whole plot of land? (which would include the plot included in the title plus the scrub land surrounding it bordered by two roads and a farmers field -triangle plot)

          I totally understand if I’m asking too much and wont be offended if you say so! - if you know of any other sources, case studies etc

          Many thanks again

          Comment


            #6
            - The property is still in the deceased’s name (I’m yet to confirm but I believe she died in 2013) - Ive been led to believe the person who reported her death may a very distant relative. Regardless of the title being in the deceased’s name would that relative/beneficiary now be the legal owner of the property? - just keen not to embark on an AP that is doomed to failure if there’s issue with the title owner being deceased.
            - I have checked the bona vacantia list and the estate is not listed
            - I have checked for wills and probate - nothing there either - would that indicate that there is a beneficiary/administrator?
            My reason for asking is that maybe then if I’m attempting adverse possession that the property is owned but by someone who just hasn’t transferred the title into their name?

            Since the purpose of registered land is to achieve certainty, it is a rule that the legal owner is the person whose name appears on the register as proprietor. One of the exceptions is when the person whose name appears is dead. When that happens the land is either vested in the deceased's personal representative(s) or, in some cases until a grant is obtained, the Public Trustee. From the point of view of going into adverse possession it does not really matter which. The only question is whether it is significant that the person named as the proprietor is dead - as to which see above.

            - when and how does the Crown try and claim the property?

            It is usually when the Crown is told. The process is immaterial.

            When going for adverse possession there is not really any need to make enquiries, You just get on with it and hope for the best.


            - Do you know of any guide/manual to successful adverse possession - step by step?

            No. There are no hard and fast rules. The best "guide" is the Land Registry guide you have already looked at.

            - I’m very keen to have made every possible bit of research to ensure I don’t trip myself up down the line

            There is no risk free approach here because the "true" owner may turn up at any time before you make an application. Even if it all looks good when you make the application there may be some devil in the detail which trips you up. The fact that the registered proprietor is dead clearly introduces an element of risk, but remember that a living registered propietor can die at any time.

            - I’m want to ensure I know the best process and how to address neighbours, local authorities and potentially any administrators/beneficiaries should I be challenged / questioned

            If challenged you simply say: Show me you have a better title than I do, Local auhtorites are not going to be interested unless you are breaching planning control or doing somthing you should not.

            - who am I answerable to once in the process of possessing the property - is there protocol? Is it only any possible heir or can a neighbour report me to the police/authorities? And what may they do?

            There is no protocol. Do not approach anyone or go around asking questions. Unless you occupy a dwelling the police will not interested. Anyone with a better title can sue for possession.

            - Just to confirm - would it be best to possess the land as previously discussed but just leave the static caravan within the plot alone ? Maybe just clean the outside of it?

            I would be inclined to leave the caravan alone.

            - it looks like one of the neighbours has ‘claimed’ part of the properties land - I can see from current the LR title map and from visiting the plot that this has occurred. I’m guessing this is beneficial to keeping him on side?

            Best not to fall out with him.

            - on the title maps it shows where building were - I have images of the buildings from ground level. Would I need planning to re erect on the same foot prints (not residential) - or could I just replace them? They weren’t particularly large, largest looks to have been around a double garage size

            You will need planning permission.

            - there is a small plot within the title on the opposite side of the road - that plot sits within a larger plot of disused scrub land - I’m trying to find out if its registered/un registered through LR but can only find property details and not land details, do you know where to locate details of land ownership? And depending on what I find is it wise to enclose the whole plot of land? (which would include the plot included in the title plus the scrub land surrounding it bordered by two roads and a farmers field -triangle plot)

            If the land is not registered there is no official way of discovering who the owner is since the title to unregistered land is private.

            *


            I repeat what I said above: When going into adverse possession of land the advice always has to be not to incur too much expense or trouble in case you are disappointed. Go into it without too much of an eye to the future thinking that if you successfully complete the relevant period and secure registration as the proprietor it will be a bonus.

            If you go for it, you just go on the land and do what you decided you were going to do. Keep your head down and do not start asking questions or discussing your occupation with anyone.

            Comment


              #7
              There was a whole village in Sussex wiped out by the flu epidemc of an hundred years ago. Every single property in the village was squatted and acquired by adverse possession. No-one could prove title from before 1920

              Comment


                #8
                Hi flyingfreehold,
                Thanks for that - how does it relate to attempting adverse possession when owner is deceased but the title is in her name (and a distant relative is apparently still alive) - this seems to be the crux of the situation.
                cheers

                Comment

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