Ex Council Garage Land

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    #16
    If you are in or thinking of going into adverse possession of land it is always a mistake to ask questions about ownership or contact the owner or anyone you think may be the owner. The only thing you should do is to check if the land is registered.

    Here the land is unregistered. So long as it remains unregistered the regime set out in the Land Registration Act 2002 does not apply, but the Limitation Act 1980 does. That means that if you are in adverse possession for 12 years and the land is never registered you will become the sole owner of a legal estate in the land with a title good against the world.

    Whether a legal estate is currently vested in the council or the HA depends on the form of the transfer and whether, when it was made, the form induced compulsory registration. If the transfer was made by way of gift it can be said for certain that the land should have been registered if the transfer was made on or after 13th October 2003 which is when the relevant sections of the LRA 2002 came into force. Whether a transfer by way of gift induced first registration before that date I have been unable to establish. If, as appears to be the case, the land in question was transferred with a lot of other land it would have been registered with the other land. Since it is not registered that suggests that the remainder of the land was not registered because it did not need to be. Whatever the position, the HA must have an interest in the land. If registration was not compulsory it has a legal estate. If it was, it has a beneficial interest under a bare trust of which the council is the trustee and in which a legal estate is vested.

    Pilman's point about a possible estoppel is an interesting one. The starting points has to be that if you have an interest in land you cannot divest yourself of it merely by declaring that you have no interest in it. "We have no interest in the land" is somewhat ambiguous. It could simply be a statement to the effect that they are not proposing to do anything with it, rather than a declaration that they have no right to it. Even if they meant the latter, it has to be doubtful that an estoppel was set up because it has to be doubted that the declaration was to be taken as indicating that the OP would rely on it to do something. In any event, estoppel or not, the OP will still have to be in adverse possession for the required period. Finally,, there is an argument that an estoppel would amount to consent, which would undermine any claim based on adverse possession.

    A key question is whether the OP is in fact in adverse possession. On the facts he has set out there has to be doubt. If you fence off vacant land and are not enclosing it with land you already own, you must use it in some way which is clearly adverse to the owner. Mere enclosure and keeping the land weed free or mowing the grass is not enough. Storing a few items in a shed is also probably insufficient. Having a picnic once a year and taking date-stamped photos is not enough. What is needed is to be actively making use of the land by doing something such as keeping chickens on it or growing vegetables.

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      #17
      Hi Lawcruncher, thanks for your comments much appreciated. Well my intentions are to start growing trachycarpus fortunei or (windmill palms) over the next year, the seedlings are already in and sprouting.
      It has taken so long to tidy up the land there is only myself and an occasional help from my other half. I am not far off 60. I have literally had to pick up bits of bricks and asbestos from all over the site.

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        #18
        Just because the Council gave the land to the housing association doesn't mean that they owned it in the first place.
        I have rented some land for over 40 years, I checked with the Land Registry recently and another authority are showing some of the land as belonging to them. Which explains why not soon after I got the lease another authority leased the same field to another farmer, (fortunately I had fenced it and was in possession) and more recently a Utility Company have built a small sewage treatment plant in the corner of the field, Entirely without asking my permission, obviously not knowing that the land is tenanted.

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          #19
          And with Councils what they want for land that they own can change as policies alter.

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            #20
            Originally posted by Another Fine Mess View Post
            Just because the Council gave the land to the housing association doesn't mean that they owned it in the first place.
            In the case of housing I think it is safe to assume they did own it.

            Originally posted by Another Fine Mess View Post
            I have rented some land for over 40 years, I checked with the Land Registry recently and another authority are showing some of the land as belonging to them.
            Whenever local government gets reorganised a lot of land moves between councils by Act of Parliament and without the need for a written document. A change of ownership of unregistered land by statute does not induce first registration. If the land is registered, the Act of Parliament effecting the change of ownership overrides the Land Registration Acts. It is one of the exceptions to the rule that the register is definitive as to ownership.

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