What are Squatters Rights?

8th April 2016

Squatters Rights is not a legal term but one that is commonly known where somebody tries to claim land without acknowledging the true owner.

The correct legal term is Adverse Possession. There are a number of conditions which must arise before anybody can claim Squatters Rights or Adverse Possession. The very first thing that must be done is that the occupier, or squatter, must have used the property as their own for more than 12 years. In using it as their own, the squatter must not acknowledge anyone else as being the owner of the property. They must treat the property as their own and that they must ignore any legal title documents that exist. The period of 12 years must be consistent and not broken up into different parts.

Occasionally people can take advantage of situations to try and claim Adverse Possession. This can sometimes happen if the owner is elderly or if they are infirm or perhaps absent from the land. Where that arises, the 12 year clock can stop. Fraudulent claims will not be admitted or accepted, particularly where the actual owner is at a disadvantage and could otherwise not know that the land is being occupied or used by somebody else.

In order to prove Adverse Possession, an application must be made on Affidavit to the Property Registration Authority under the Registration of Title Act, 1964.

The applicant will usually contact the owners of the adjoining land to ask them whether they have any objections to the application. The applicant must set out the history of how long they have been there and confirm that they have not acknowledged anybody else as owner of the property for at least 12 years. An applicant will be required to set out who last owned the land or who last occupied the land.

There is no patch of land in this country that has not been occupied or owed by somebody in the past, so therefore, an applicant would have to explain how the last owner stopped occupying the land and how the applicant then took up occupation.

Anybody notified by the Property Registration Authority of an application can oppose the application and challenge it. This can arise regularly and then the Circuit Court will be asked to adjudicate on the application.

Where claims are legitimate, the Property Registration Authority will register the ownership of the applicant.

Given the historical significance of land ownership in this country, the Property Registration Authority will take every possible care to make sure that when a new land owner is being created that all precautions are taken.

For further details, please contact – https://www.odwyersolicitors.ie/contact/