Adverse possession

Charlotte charlotte at
Sun Oct 2 11:37:22 BST 2011

By Jim Paton 
Forwarded by Charlotte:

Not surprised if this didn't get a response from ASS, as it's not seeking 
advice and it's a load of bollocks.  They have enough to do responding to 
people who need help with their housing problems right now, people who're in 
court in a couple of days, people who've been illegally evicted etc., without 
dealing with inaccurate, speculative rants from others who don't know what 
they're talking about but spout made up nonsense as if they did.  Of the links 
given, one didn't work, one was from the USA and so irrelevant and one was 
just a government report prompted by a reversal of a previous ECHR decision 
(see below about that).

Adverse possession is not "better than squatting", it IS squatting.  It is a 
sort of official name for squatting, and they're the same thing.  Accurate 
advice on statutory limitation as a defence is on pages 58-59 of Squatters 

If you've been in adverse possession for longer than the statutory limitation 
period and haven't conceded the "paper" owner's title, then you can claim a 
possessory title, provided it's not registered land.  If it IS registered 
land, you're caught by the Land Registration Act, 2002 which allows the 
"paper" owner 2 years to evict you, which they will almost certainly do.  So, 
it now works only for

*  Unregistered land.  Most built-on land is registered, as well as much that 
isn't built on.  Exceptions are rare, varying in different parts of the 
*  Cases where the land is registered but the limitation period of 12 years 
expired BEFORE 13/10/03.  These benefit from the "transitional provisions" in
    the 2002 Act.
*  Very rare cases where the "paper" owner has genuinely disappeared and isn't 
coming back.  The only ones I've ever heard of involved a hurried
    departure to another country to evade an arrest warrant and some very long 
prison sentences.  

The owner having died DOES NOT COME NOT THE LAST CATEGORY ABOVE.  The legal 
effect of being dead is just that you cease to be a "corporeal person" and 
become a "legal person", but it doesn't mean you cease to exist.  Not legally, 
anyway.  The land devolves to the dead person's estate, which can evict you 
subject to the rules mentioned above.  If the person did not make a will, so 
has no executor, and no relatives appear to apply for a grant of 
administration, the land is dealt with by the Public Trustee.  This bod 
conducts a search for anyone with a right to inherit and if none can be found 
(it takes several years), the land "falls to the crown" and the state takes 
it.  This process can be good for a long-lasting squat, but doesn't get you 
anything permanent unless the limitation rules work for you, which they rarely 
do due to the 2002 Act. 

Ironically, the decision of the European Court of Human Rights which forced 
the government to effectively prevent claims to title by adverse occupation on 
registered land in the 2002 Act, was later reversed, but too late to help 

Just to explain about land registfration.  It is now compulsory throughout 
England and Wales.  That means that any time any land changes hands it MUST be 
registered, if it isn't already.  The date compulsory land registration began 
varies from area to area.  In inner London, it began in the 1870s or 1880s.  
The last few rural areas were added in 1990.  There is a Land Registry 
Practice Guide (no 50-something) which you can get off their website which 
tells you when it began in different areas.  You need to know not only what 
district council, London borough or unitary council the place is in now, but 
often which one it was in before 1964. 

     "Judges are ruling in favour of "use" of properties," 
Oh yeah?  WHERE?  WHEN?  Citation please, so we can all check it out on 
BAILII.  There isn't a citation, of course, because this is pure wishful 
thinking.  It is talking-bollocks-round-a-fire stuff of the same genus as the 
"Freemen of the Land" bullshit.  The only "free" thing about that is is the 
complete freedom from ANY CITATION of applicable case law which works in a 
common law system.   Common law, of course, being another term these people 
don't understand.  That's not necessarily because they're stupid but because 
they don't want to, and have their fingers in their ears lest their fantasy is 
disrupted by anything resembling real law.  It would be nice if common law 
were what they'd like it to be, but it's not, and wishful thinking doesn't 
work.  If it did work, there would be one or more reported cases to cite, and 
for anyone to look up.  Needless to say, there isn't.  There isn't even any 
supporting decision at first instance (which
 doesn't constitute "binding authority", of course, and doesn't get reported), 
let alone of the higher courts, which determine what the common law is and 
create "authority" which other people can rely on, and binds the lower courts 
similar cases.

      "but how did they secure their location in aldgate? is it a squatting 
scenario or has it been adversely possessed? whos funding it if they have no 
ASS rents its office from Freedom.  ASS has operated from a cheap rented office 
since it began in 1975.  It bumps along financially through good people 
organising benefits, a few donations and small standing orders from ex-
squatters who can now afford it, a couple of similarly small standing orders 
from supportive housing co-ops which grew out of squatting, and (previously) 
doing Workers Beer at festivals.  The latter didn't happen this year as the 
new regime at WB doesn't seem to like scuzzy organisations like ASS.  The 
result is that ASS is in a bit of financial do-dah, having spent more than it 
gets in for the last 2 years just on running an office every day, paying phone 
bills etc.  Nobody in ASS gets paid anything.  Skint volunteers can claim 
their bus fares to the office and that's it.  Squatters Handbook just about 
covers its cost and ASS doesn't run on selling it.

Any of this could be found out by people who don't know by asking ASS for 
their current newsletter and accounts.  Yes, they have accounts.  You'd expect 
an organisation which tries to be accurate, precise and thorough about the law 
to have the same approach to money, wouldn't you? Why didn't Mr Zouk ask for 
the accounts instead of stirring up bollocks innuendo?    ASS no doubt wishes 
it had a secret source of big-bucks funding, too, but like Mr Zouk's alleged 
magic of "adverse occupation", that's just more wishful thinking.


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