Question: I have been living at my current address for the past 20 years. The property consists of a dwelling house on approximately a half acre of ground. The house was left to me by my father in his Will who died 20 years ago. My father had lived in the house for all of his life. It has recently come to my attention that a strip of ground at the rear of my garden although enclosed within my garden is registered on my neighbour’s folio. It was my neighbour who brought the matter to my attention. You might please advise me on how to proceed further.
Firstly, I note from you query that you have been in possession of the property including the strip which is still registered on your neighbour’s folio for the past 20 years. Prior to that your father was in possession of the property and the title to you devolved from your father, on his death. In this instance, there are two options open to you.
Firstly, you can request that your neighbour sign a Deed of Transfer which is a Deed transferring to you the strip of property which is still registered on his folio for a nominal consideration. To complete the transfer an original Land Registry compliant map will have to be marked by your Engineer and your neighbour will then be asked to meet with his Solicitor with a view to signing the relevant documentation. Your neighbour may also require for his own Engineer to check the boundaries of the map as against the boundaries on the ground. It is usual in a situation like this that as the individual who is rectifying your title that you would also pay the legal costs and Engineering costs of your neighbour. This way would be by far the simplest and quickest way to deal with the matter as it would involve co-operation from your neighbour.
The second option open to you is to make a Section 49 Application to the Land Registry. This is an application to the Land Registry to register your ownership of the strip of ground based on long possession. The minimum period of possession is 12 years. Your possession must be without the consent or knowledge of the owner of the property and where no rent has been paid with regard to the use of the property. From your query it is clear that you and your family have always been in possession of this property and that you have been in possession without the consent of your neighbour who was not aware of the fact that he was still registered as owner of the strip of property. In effect, you will be applying then to the Land Registry for ownership based on a Squatter’s title. The minimum period of occupation is 12 years and as part of that application you will have to complete an Affidavit setting out the full history of you and your father’s possession of the strip of property. A Land Registry map will also have to be marked by an Engineer and will be submitted with the application. As part of the application in due course your neighbour will be notified by the Land Registry of your application and will be entitled to object in writing to your application if he believes that he has the grounds to do so. Section 49 Applications can take a number of years to complete in the Land Registry and it is usual that the Land Registry will raise a number of queries with regard to your application before matters are completed.
It is important that the title to your property is in order and therefore you should now consult with your Solicitor who will advise you on the best way to proceed.