Mapping Every Meter of Unregistered Land in England & Wales.

The Must-Have Map for Adverse Possession Claims.

So you have found some land, claimed it and occupied it for many years. Now you want to begin the claiming process but not sure how long you need to wait or how to start a claim. 

This article looks over these questions and helps point out readers in the right directions. Of course, as with all the infomation on this site, anything on article is provided as tips not legal fact and may be inaccurate. Each case is different and you must contact a legal professional before undertaking a claim – we programmers supplying an unregistered land mapping product not legal experts!

How Long Do I Need to Wait Before Claiming?

How long you need to claim the land for before you can submit a request to gain title deeds is dependent on the prior land ownership types. 

Crown Land

If the land you wish to claim is owned by the Crown (also meaning government or council land) or an ecclesiastical corporation sole then the required claiming period is 30 years. Of course, this is a much greater amount of time than normal therefore you should be careful before engaging in a claim for land ownership. If you are unsure who owns the land, a useful tip is contacting your local council. You should submit a freedom of infomation claim requesting infomation on the land ownership for the plot in question. They then should contact you back within 20 days (sources) letting you know if they do or do not own the land. 

Remember, even in the countryside fields can be owned by local council or churches as old allotment land so you can never be sure. Also if a dissolved company owns the land this means the land has now passed to the crown and, as such, the 30 year period applies. Finally, shores owned by the crown have a 60 year limit. To view all the niche cases, have a look at the Gov.UK guides linked below. If you are serious about your claim, remember to undertake land searches to make sure you know the land ownership details.

Registered Land

See Gov.UK guide for more info.

Registered land is land registered with HM Land Registry. When not owned by the crown, the required amount of time to wait is 10 years. This is the shortest amount of time however, as we will show, you should avoid trying to claim registered land as the prior landowners are in a very strong position to block your adverse possession claim. 

After 10 years, you can submit a claim in which case the owners can then submit a challenge. Since the land is registered, HM Land Registry will contact the owners on file to inform them of the prospective claim. The prior owners will then have two years to remove you from the land after which point you can reapply for ownership. The prior land owners are in a strong legal position to remove you from the land and are able to extend the 2 year period in some cases. As a result, it tends to be best to avoid registered land if possible.

Unregistered Land

See Gov.UK guide for more info.

Unregistered land is the easiest type of land to claim with adverse possession. Unregistered means the land ownership infomation is not on file with HM Land Registry. As a result, in most cases the land registry do not know who owns the land. It also means you need to wait 12 years before you can apply to gain the title deeds with HM Land Registry. Once the 12 years is up, however, you have a strong case if all your evidence is in line and you complete the request properly (of course you should always get a lawyer to undertake a claim on your behalf to ensure maximum chance of success).

Unclaimed Land UK provides a map of all unregistered land in the UK so is ideal for individuals looking for plots of land to claim with adverse possession. Purchase a subscription here to access the maps.

Completing the Paperwork

See Gov.UK paperwork guide here.

So you have waited enough time and now you need to complete the paperwork to file with the Land Registry. Of course, you must contact a legal professional to undertake the claim on your behalf and you cannot reply on our infomation alone (we are programmers not legal professionals). Nonetheless, we have outlined the process below for the registration of adverse possession claims for unregistered land.

You must complete form FR1 (rule 23 of the Land Registration Rules 2003). With form FR1, you need to also send in form DL in duplicate listing the supporting documentary evidence (rule 24 of the Land Registration Rules 2003). You also need to send the appropriate fee under the Fee Order and the inspection fee (see Inspection). You will need to complete a survey of the land and include it with the paperwork. Finally, you will need to complete form ST1 (in most cases) which covers the evidence for your claim.

This is all for unregistered land only – different forms apply for other land ownership types. Of course, this is just a basic overview of the process which is more complex. Have a look at the guide linked above which covers the whole process. You will need a lawyer to undertake the paperwork on your behalf unless you really know what you are doing!