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UK Squatters Rights Law

Squatting is a term used in the United Kingdom to describe a person who occupies an empty or abandoned property without the owner's permission.

Squatters who gain entry to a property lawfully cannot be legally removed unless the true land owner goes to the county court and receives a possession order. After 10 years of occupancy the squatter can register his interest and potentially become the title owner by way of adverse possession.

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession, also known as "Squatter's Rights," is a process through which a squatter can gain legal title to a property. It's based on the idea that if a building's true paper owner ignores the property for a substantial length of time, then he can lose his title to the squatter.

Factual Possession

To enforce Squatter's Rights, the squatter must prove that she has taken physical possession of the land through some means other than a tenancy agreement, license or the owner's consent. The possession must literally be "adverse" to the owner.

The squatter also must be open about her possession. She can't hide the fact that she's occupying the property.

Intention To Possess

The squatter must prove an intention to possess the land. He may do so by decorating the building or maintaining the land as if it were his own.

Nature of Rights

According to the Land Registration Act 2002, after 10 years of occupancy the squatter can register his rights to the land. Notice is then given to the title owner and any others who may hold a legal interest in the land. The true owner has a chance to respond. If he fails to respond, registration takes place in the squatter's favour.

Recovery of Land.

The title owner can recover her land at any stage before registration, via a possession order from the local county court, or a speedier interim possession order.