Did­dly squat

Irish Independent - Farming - - FINANCE FARMING - THERESA MUR­PHY

type of claim in­di­cates that in­sur­ing the prop­erty for all the length of the pos­ses­sion does amount to an act of pos­ses­sion.

Even slight acts of own­er­ship by the true owner over the prop­erty dur­ing the 12-year pe­riod will negate pos­ses­sion.

In one case here, the landowner only vis­ited it on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions each year when he would park his car and stand on the road or in the gate­way look­ing over the hedge or gate.

The judge in that case de­cided that be­cause the owner’s le­gal ti­tle ex­tended to the cen­tre of the road they were in fact stand­ing on their own land each time.

It is sig­nif­i­cant that the farmer us­ing the land has erected a fence around it as this could in­di­cate his in­ten­tion to ex­clude oth­ers from use of the land in­clud­ing the right­ful owner and there­fore as­sist in a po­ten­tial claim of ad­verse pos­ses­sion.

Pro­tect­ing Against A Claim

If you have land which is be­ing used by an­other per­son and is in their con­trol, by hav­ing a lease/li­cense in place and re­newed from time to time for which you re­ceive even a very small rent, you could en­sure that the oc­cu­pier is a ten­ant and tenants can­not claim ad­verse pos­ses­sion.

If some­one is in oc­cu­pa­tion or use of a part of your land with­out your per­mis­sion and with­out a lease/li­cense in place you should serve an evic­tion no­tice. How­ever, it is not suf­fi­cient to is­sue an evic­tion no­tice and take no fur­ther ac­tion, you should fol­low up on this.

If a squat­ter ac­knowl­edges the ti­tle of the true owner dur­ing the 12-year pe­riod, it stops the clock and the squat­ter will have to start a fresh pe­riod of oc­cu­pa­tion.

It is for the squat­ter to prove their claim and it is a mat­ter for the court or the land reg­istry to de­cide whether ti­tle has been es­tab­lished. Claims for ad­verse pos­ses­sion/squat­ter’s rights are com­plex and re­quire in­di­vid­ual and con­sid­ered le­gal ad­vice.

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