Bark & Co can assist with the application and registration process, including advising on the evidence, statutory declarations, application forms, dealing and liaising with HM Land Registry, answering HM Land Registry queries/requisitions, litigating matters in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) or the County or High Court.
Riz Majid (the Head of Litigation at Bark & Co) is one of the leading solicitors in the area of adverse possession. He represented Mr Keith Best in one of the leading cases on adverse possession, (Keith Best v HM Chief Land Registrar), in which he was successful in the Court of Appeal.
Bark & Co are currently dealing with numerous applications for adverse possession, including assisting with evidence/statutory declarations, applications, dealing with HM Land Registry queries and requisitions and litigating in the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) and Courts.
The adverse possession service at Bark & Co covers all aspects of Adverse Possession law and practice.
We take on cases throughout England and Wales. This is the definitive legal service for people who are involved in Adverse Possession matters. Applications for Adverse Possession are made to HM Land Registry (although Adverse Possession also arises in court proceedings).HM Land Registry must be satisfied that certain criteria are fulfilled for an application to be successful. This includes:
- The occupier who wishes to claim adverse possession must be occupying the property without permission of the legal owner.
- They must be treating the property as if it were their own.
- The occupier must be in possession or control of the property.
- The occupier or any predecessors through whom the occupier claims must occupy the property for at least 10 or 12 years (depending on whether it is registered or unregistered land) prior to the application.
The starting point for any application would be a detailed and comprehensive statement of truth (on form ST1) / statutory declaration setting out the criteria for the application, detailing and explaining the occupation without permission, how the property has been treated, the possession and control and length of time of occupation. Annexed to this statutory declaration should be documentary or other evidence backing up the contents of the statutory declaration. There are also specific requirements contained within the Land Registration Rules 2003 that need to be contained. For example, the statement of truth/statutory declaration must be made not more than one month before the date of the application. The squatter will also need to decide their position under Schedule 6, paragraph 5 of the Land Registration Act 2002 if a counter-notice is served.
It is important to ensure that the ADV1 form is correctly filled out. Whilst an obvious clerical error may result in HM Land Registry asking for clarification, in most cases, it may result in a return of the application.
The appropriate fee should be enclosed with the ADV1 form and the ADV1 form should list out all accompanying documents.
For unregistered land, the application must be made on form FR1. With form FR1, form DL also needs to be submitted in duplicate listing the supporting documentary evidence. The appropriate fee should be enclosed with the FR1 form
Once HM land Registry receives the application it will be considered. If it is deficient then it may be returned.
It is very common for further queries or requisitions (as they are known) to be raised by HM Land Registry.
If the application is deemed hopeless and/or lacking then HM Land Registry can reject it at this stage.
If the application and any responses to requisitions are adequate then inspection by an HM land Registry surveyor can take place. The squatter and the true paper title owner will be given notice of the inspection.
If from the evidence HM land Registry have seen, they believe it to be more likely than not that the squatter is entitled to apply to be registered, they will provide notice of the application. Notice is usually provided to the true paper title owner and anyone else who is considered appropriate.
For unregistered land, anyone wishing to object to an application must deliver to the registrar a written statement signed by them or their conveyancer.
For registered land, a person who receives a notice can consent, object or file a counter-notice. The notice will allow 65 business days for a reply and will enclose a copy of form NAP, which must be used for counter-notice.
For registered land, if no counter-notice or objection is received then the squatter will be registered as proprietor, and receive a possessory class of title.
For unregistered land, it is sometimes possible to get title absolute for first registration, but usually, a possessory class of title is registered.
If any person wishes to object to an application they must deliver to HM land Registry a signed written statement. Amongst other things, the written statement must state the grounds for objection. HM land Registry can reject the application or it can proceed to try and get the parties to negotiate. If negotiations are not successful then there will be a dispute amongst the parties and the dispute will be referred to the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber).