Mapping Every Meter of Unregistered Land in England & Wales.

The Must-Have Map for Adverse Possession Claims.

Important Notice: The information provided on this side (whether authored by ourselves or recommended by us) is no substitute for professional legal advice. Our tips, advice and product must only be used in conjunction with professional legal advice and we take no responsibility for any actions taken as a result of our product or advice. All information on this site, including advice and our product, is provided without warranty and we cannot guarantee accuracy. Please always do further research and engage with a legal professional before undertaking any actions and/or beginning a claim. We are programmers not legal experts!

The information provided below is not exhaustive and over simplifies a highly complex legal scenario. Many particular requirements and exclusions exist in niche cases – always talk to a legal professional with your prospective property in hand to ensure an adverse claim is possible and particular steps required for said property.

Abandoned field in the countryside.

How to Claim Free Land

What is Adverse Possession

Adverse possession is a legal principle that allows a person to gain ownership of another person’s property by openly, and exclusively, occupying it for a certain period of time. An important principle in the UK is all land has an owner with land either being registered or unregistered with HM Land Registry. Registration of property ownership only became a requirement when land changed hands around 30 years ago. This means a significant percentage of England and Wales remains unregistered. This generally compromises land which has not changed owners recently.

Both registered and unregistered land have owners. However, the process of adverse possession differs on the legal state of the land. Even if HM Land Registry does not have ownership information on file, unregistered land always has an owner – calling it ‘unclaimed’ is somewhat of a misnomer. For example, as can be seen on our maps, roads are generally unregistered yet clearly have an owner and would be impossible to successfully claim. 

For all adverse claim attempts basic principles apply if you wish to succeed;

  • Exclusive Possession – You must ensure any adverse possession claims are treated as your own private land. This means excluding any other individuals for accessing the property. For example, a field will need to be fenced off to prevent unauthorised access. For a property,  you must ensure the building is secured by locking doors and repairing or blocking any other entrances (such as open windows). 
  • Open Possession – All potential adverse possessions must clearly clearly advertise the fact the land is private. You must clearly sign the land ideally with your contact information on signs to ensure the current owner or any other individuals know you are treating the land as your own. Remember, an adverse possession must be very clearly advertised as your property to ensure no doubt and allow the previous landowner to challenge the claim.
  • Improve the Property – Adverse possession should not be undertaken as a simple profit making exercise. The importance of Adverse Possession in English law is to ensure abandoned properties are not left as unproductive eye sores. For a successful adverse possession you need to demonstrate how ownership of the land or property has benefited said property. For buildings this means repairing them to acceptable standards. For land this could mean clearing rubbish, improving the character of the land (removing invasive harmful plants such as giant hogweed) and improving the atheistic or natural value of the land (by coppicing trees would historically would have been). Remember you are trying to improve the property for the benefit of the community not just yourself.
  • Economic Utilisation – You must prove you are using the property in an economically efficient manner. Coupled with the requirement to show evidence for possession, you may wish to rent out the property, for example, or use the property to make a certain product. Evidence of this is powerful proof of ownership when you come to submit evidence and displays you are trying to improve the property.
  • Time Limits – The time it takes between the start of an occupation and a successful claim varies depending on the nature of the previous ownership of the land. For basic property registered land is 10 years and unregistered is 12 years before you can submit a claim for review. Crown, including land owned by the government and dissolved companies, and spiritual corporation land is more stringent with a 30 year requirement. Other time limits may also exist.

    The requirements to begin a claim vary between registered and unregistered land with a summary of the process below:

Registered Land

Registered land is somewhat harder to successfully complete an adverse possession given the owners information is on file and publicly available.

  • After 10 years of adverse possession, the occupier may apply to register the land as a new owner.
  • The previous registered owner will be notified, however, and can object which will start a two year period in which the previous owner must ejected the occupier. 
  • If not action is taken, the squatter may apply again for owners to the land in question.
If the occupier is ejected from the land but has a compelling case then they may apply within 6 months of ejection – though such a scenario is uncommon. In general, registered land is much harder for a prospective adverse claimer given the nature of registered land means the owners is likely more invested in the land regardless.

Unregistered Land

Our product maps out unregistered land. This does not mean the land is abandoned but the process to claim such land is easier. For unregistered land the following rules apply:

  • After 12 years the occupier may apply to register their ownership of the property. 
  • The Land Registry will attempt to notify anyone they consider has an interest in the land. Given the land is unregistered, notification of the owner is generally unachievable. 
  • Land owners must provide evidence in the form of original title deeds to the property in question which are often difficult to locate.

Therefore, despite unregistered land always having an owner, the likelihood of a successful adverse possession on unregistered land is high (especially compared to registered land). Abandoned land, in which the owner is unaware of its existence, is always more likely to be unregistered given the nature – property registered in the last few decades generally has not been forgotten yet a small plot of unregistered land my not have been occupied of a centaury for example. Link

Identification of unregistered land is, therefore, vital for a prospective adverse claimer yet this is much harder to identify than one would assume. The Land Registry does offer an online map for purchasing land ownership information yet it fails to identify unclaimed land. Therefore, using publicly available, highly complex data, we have used our extensive knowledge of working with geographical information services and government statistics to bring you a simple and sleek product. Finding abandoned land is hard – you need all the time you can. So prioritise your effort on searching and occupying rather than messing around with computers.

Adverse Possession in Action

Below we have attached a few videos of individuals attempting an adverse possession on the ground. Naturally, we do not endorse such actions (or any adverse claims) and we must stress any information your receive from the videos, or from ourselves, cannot be taken as legal fact. Always discuss with a legal professional the steps regarding the requirements of adverse possession, the status of a particular property you wish to begin an occupation of and the consequences of any actions you may take before taking them. We offer no warranty on any information on this site, do not claim accuracy on any information and take no responsibility for an consequences as a result of following/using them – we are programmers not legal professionals so find a reputable source for anything legal.

Please Note: The above YouTube-hosted videos are not produced by ourselves [] nor are they endorsed by ourselves and are provided without warranty. They are not legally accurate. Please take them as entertainment rather than legal advice – always take legal advice from a legal professional before planning or undertaking any action.