Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby konscious » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:21 am

Heres some good info i came across.

Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Legally claiming land and property really is worth the initial legwork, once you have started the process with one plot/property the second one is easy you know the ropes and instinctively know if it feels right!
You would be surprised at how helpful local residents are, they are happy to have an eyesore of a house smartened up and to have overgrown plots cleared and made respectable; after all it helps their homes increase in value! Who wants to live alongside a derelict house that often attracts undesirables hanging around or a plot strewn with discarded rubbish and overgrown weeds?
The UK Land Registry currently holds details of approximately 20 million registered land and property plots in the England and Wales.
There are an estimated 7 million unregistered land and properties in the UK at the moment with an estimated value of in excess of £6 Billion.
I am not claiming that all 7 million plots can be easily claimed however the likelihood of finding several plots or properties that you can claim is very good.
The details below primarily deal with the subject of adverse possession relative to the Land Laws of England and Wales, similar procedures still apply in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Some of the terminology is different but the same principles apply.
Adverse possession is a truly global process and has been practiced for many hundreds of years worldwide including USA and Canada. In fact this principal can be used throughout the whole of Europe too!
These plots and properties probably do have an owner somewhere, they may just not have been registered, it could be that the owner has died and not left a will or has no relatives. They may have left the area years ago and a large number of plots and properties are simply forgotten!
These are all properties or plots that you can legally claim as your own and IMMEDIATELY starting earning money from your plot or property - if you follow carefully the appropriate processes detailed below.

The legal definition of adverse possession is:

The gaining of title to real estate, by continuous, hostile, open and notorious possession over a statutory period

Contact Details
England , Wales & Republic of Ireland
HM Land Registry
32 Lincolns Inn Fields

Public Guide #1 A free guide that explains all of the information kept by the Land Registry and how to gain visibility of it.
This can also be downloaded from their website.

Edinburgh Customer Service Centre
Erskine House
68 Queen Street
LP 50 Edinburgh 5
DX 550906 Edinburgh 9
General Enquiries

Tel. 0845 607 0161
Fax. 0131 200 3932

Land Registry
Chancery Street
Dublin 7

Getting Started

Find your plot or property!
The best place to start is in an area that you are familiar with, around where you live or work. It is usually better to walk or cycle around the area as when driving you may miss that elusive overgrown gate, boarded up old property or rough strip of land. (Two of the properties that I am currently renting out even had dingy net curtains at the windows!) You will probably have driven past it many times and not even notice it!

� The best type of property is the one that is overgrown and appears un-used.
� Do not assume that empty pieces of land or grass verges are owned by the Local Authority or Utilities board.
� There are many strips of land that can be claimed within built up areas.
� Animals are often grazed on un-owned fields.
� Casual Car Parks are often not owned or registered!
� Land occasionally used by Gypsies and Travellers is often unregistered.
� Check out land that has no firm boundaries, neighbours may be currently using it as an extended garden or to park their car, caravan or boat but they may not own it!

The plots or properties could be:

Run down
Rough car parking areas
Terraced properties
Detached properties
Semi-detached properties
Old Commercial premises
Old shops
Old industrial buildings
Old public Toilets
Often the gateways and driveways may be overgrown and provide difficult access, but persevere!

Gather Information about your Find!
You will need to complete form SIM (can be downloaded from the Land Registry website) and ask the Land Registry to perform a search on the site. There is no charge for this service providing that there is no more than 10 unregistered titles at the site (highly unusual) (in excess of 10 requires a fee of £4 per title). This general search will tell you if the title is Registered, Unregistered or has a pending application for first registration.

Possible Outcomes
1. Registered: the land is registered however the owner could be deceased, unwanted or disowned and you may still be able to stake a claim.
2. Unregistered: no one has actually registered the land and you should stake your claim!
3. Pending First Application: there are a number of possible reasons for this but usually it will mean that someone else has beaten you to it and spotted the potential to claim the title. I would personally recommend that you do not proceed on this plot and now look for an alternative plot or property.

What to do next

Registered: If you decide to continue with this plot you now need to find out who the owner is. Complete form OC-1 and the Land Registry will supply you with the owner’s details and copies of the plan showing boundaries etc. The charge for this is £4 per document. However if you know where the boundaries are and only need the owners details complete form 313 (the charge is also £4 for these details).
Unregistered: the land could be unregistered for a number of reasons, for example: it may be unwanted as the owner may think it is worthless, they could have moved away, even emigrated and simply forgotten about it. They may have been left the land by a relative but not realise they own it. The owner may have died and have no living relatives. The plot may have been left to more than one person and they consider their share worthless. There are many reasons why plots and properties are left neglected and unregistered.
Prior to claiming the land you still need to show that you have tried to trace the Legal Owner. Here are the ways that I personally found the most fruitful:
� Ask the immediate neighbours if they know the owner.
� Check the Electoral Role for details.
� Speak to the local Post Office, Pub Landlord, Newsagents, Milkman and Vicar.
� A good source of information can also be the local Old Age Pensioners clubs and the like!
� A useful website to check out is (this is a private company who do charge for their services, this usually can be between £20 - £35 depending on how much information you have on the person you are attempting to trace - a small investment considering the possible rewards!)
� If it is a property as opposed to a plot, check out any old mail that may be there which could provide you with a name that may help jog memories when you are making enquiries.
� If it seems that the owner has died you should check out the local Probate Registry Office, if the owner has died and either not left the land to anyone or that person has forgotten about it you should stake your claim!

It is important to do as much research prior to staking your claim to prevent an owner turning up after you take possession of the land or property!

If the owner is still alive and has not moved out of the area it will be probable that they will challenge your adverse possession claim, it is probably worthwhile to scrap this plot or property and look for an alternative. There are so many around it is a better use of your valuable time.

Possession is Nine Tenths of the Law.
The law as it stands says that if you have taken possession of a plot or property for an agreed period of time (currently 12 years for Unregistered land and 10 years for Registered land) ( but you can still IMMEDIATELY starting earning money from your plot or property) provided there is no objection being raised by the owner or counter claimant. In the case of Unregistered land you may become the Registered owner with Possessory Freehold Title. In the case of Registered land after the 10 year period you would be granted transfer of title.
The fact that you did not buy or inherit the land or property in question makes no difference at all in the eyes of the law.

What to do now
You are not legally required to submit any forms to the Land Registry at the initial stage of Staking a Claim. However, you would be advised to keep some evidence of the starting date of your claim. Draw up a document stating that you are staking a claim to the property detailing the address etc. and ensure that 2 independent witnesses sign and date your document - this does not need to be done by a solicitor or the like, it can be friends, neighbours or work colleagues - in fact anyone. Photographs of the property with you in the photo (ideally displaying a national newspaper of the day and also with any neighbouring properties in view) are also useful.

This will need to be kept in a safe place as you may need it at the end of your claim (in 10 or 12 years).
Place ‘No Trespassing’ signs near the border of the land noting your telephone number on it. If there is an 'owner' this can often be a quick way to find them and negating any unnecessary expenses incurred by you.
Erect a fence around the land area. This can be up to 2m high unless it fronts onto a road where it can only be 1m high without the necessity for planning permission.
Repair any existing fencing or gates. Install padlocks, treat the property as your own.
Tidy the land cut the grass, trim hedges clear rubbish etc.

Statutory Usage Period (the 10 or 12 years)
For your claim to be successful your usage must be:
� Exclusive: you must exclude all others including the owner.
� Permanent: not intermittent.
� Uninterrupted: must be continuous and ongoing.
� Unchallenged: must not be challenged by the owner or their heirs.
So, providing that during the Statutory Period (either 10 or 12 years) of your adverse possession no one else has proved that they are the owner and you can prove to the Land Registry that you have been using or have made permanent use of the plot or property you will be granted Possessory Freehold Title.

Immediate Earning Potential
During your occupation of the plot or property there are many ways that you can generate immediate income, for example:
� Move into the property yourself (saving your own mortgage/rent).
� Run a Bed and Breakfast business from the property.
� Rent out rooms to lodgers.
� Rent out the whole property.
� Rent out the plot as allotments.
� Rent out the plot to keep small animals (chickens, ducks etc.)
� Grow Crops to sell.
� Erect Sheds and Greenhouses, either for your own use to grow and sell produce or to rent out the buildings.
� Grow Fruit and Vegetables, ideal to sell directly at car boot sales or to local traders.
� Grow Trees, fruit trees sell very well and have a high profit margin.
� Animal Grazing, rent out the land to local farmers.
� Horse Stabling, erect a shelter and rent out to Horse owners.
� Caravan over wintering, rent out to local caravan owners (most people do not have room to keep their caravan in their drive!)
� Secure Car Parking, rent out spaces to people who have no or insufficient off road parking.
� Car Storage, rent out space to local small car sales that do not have sufficient space to keep cars waiting to be placed on their forecourt.
� Car Boot Sales, a very lucrative way of earning quick cash from your plot. Simply erect a sign advertising a weekly car boot sale and charge entrants between £8 - £15 per car/ van!
Make sure that you keep records of any rent received or earning from the plot/ property � this will help to prove your usage of the property.
You must ensure that you use the land, it is not enough to Fence it and leave it, mow the grass a couple of times or erect a shed and leave it. You need to actually use the land! If you do not have the time to 'use' it an option is to plant vegetables for example potatoes that do not need too much attention - simply weed occasionally and harvest then re plant!

Planning Permission
After the Statutory Period (10 or 12 years) and when title has been granted you can apply for planning permission and build on the land. You may also do this prior to the title being granted however if an owner should show up then the property would be transferred to them.

'Defective Title' Indemnity Insurance
After the Statutory Period and when title has been granted and to further protect your investment you can easily take out the above insurance. This will pay you the full market value of the property or buy the property off the owner for you - should the actual owner turn up and try to claim the property back at a later date (an extremely rare occurrence!). Many insurance companies can quote you for this, you could try the following sites: or .

Tenancy Terms
If you decide to rent out the property it is advisable to be on a low rent basis and on a ‘Tenancy at Will’ basis, this means you can ask the tenant to leave at very short notice. It is very important to ensure that you get a suitable tenant, one who will not annoy the neighbours so to assist in your keeping your claim as low profile as possible.
It’s also worth remembering that a great deal of potential tenants are not in a financial position to rent a conventional property - i.e. they would not be in a position to supply the letting agency with bank references, could not pay a month in advance and a further bond - usually equal to at least a further month in advance plus an arrangement fee!
� On a standard rental fee of say £550 per month the tenant would have to pay a total of £1250 + which is way out of many people’s budgets!
� So if the normal rental fee in your area is £1000 per calendar month - the tenant would be expected to pay £2300 up front!!!
� If you can offer a low cost rental on a weekly basis of perhaps half the normal anticipated rent you will have potential tenants queuing at your door! Trust me - I do! I also find that existing tenants bring in new tenants and I have a waiting list of new renters!

Applying for Possessory Freehold Title and Absolute Freehold Title
12 years after being granted Possessory Freehold Title (as much as 24 years after starting the process) you can apply to have your title upgraded to Absolute Freehold Title. Complete form UT-1 and submit to the Land Registry, the current charge for this is £40 - this means that you will be the legal owner of the property. This means you can now do anything you wish with the land, be it sell it, mortgage it or secure a loan on it, something you could not previously do. You can sell your interest in the land prior to being granted Possessory Freehold Title but the price would be below market value. You would be advised to wait until Possessory Freehold Title had been granted before selling as you would obtain a much higher price. For the optimum profit and to attain full market value you would be advised to wait until Absolute Freehold Title had been granted.
There is nothing whatsoever to stop you applying for Absolute Freehold Title a short time after Possessory Freehold Title has been granted as each case is treated on its merits you may be granted Absolute Freehold as soon as year 13 or 14 after the process started!

In a Nutshell!

1. Find plot/ property.
2. Attempt to trace owner.
3. Take witnessed photographic evidence.
4. Use plot/property for 10 or 12 years.
5. Apply for Possessory Freehold Title.
6. Apply for Absolute Freehold Title.
7. Sell plot/property.
This may sound complicated, but providing you are organised and follow the directions I am sure that you will be successful!
Don’t be daunted by having to wait 10 or 12 years for Possessory title (don’t forget you will be amassing income in that time). At today’s prices when an average home in an average area can cost upwards of £150,000 isn’t it worth hanging in there to ‘earn’ that capital along with the rental income over the years? (For very little work!)

Further Information
Your local library is a great source of free information. There are a few books on the subject of Adverse Possession that you may find useful. If you would rather search for them online I have detailed a couple of sites you may like to try (bear in mind though that you would need to purchase the publications - an unnecessary cost when you can just order them free from the local library!).
"Concise Land Registration Practice" by Theodore B F Ruoff published by Sweet & Maxwell
"Land Law, Cases and Materials" by E H Burn published by Butterworths
"Registered Land" by David J Hayton published by Sweet & Maxwell
"Land Law" by L B Curzon published by M & E Handbooks Law
"Adverse Possession" by Stephen Jourdan published by Butterworths Law
You can search for these books at or
If you decide that you are going to go all out and look for not just one but several plots or properties an Ordnance Survey Map will prove invaluable! You can go to where you can order maps of all areas of the country and also obtain a great CD Rom which contains extremely detailed information relevant to all areas of the UK.
In addition to the main Land Registry website you can go to or for Scotland where you can access registered owners details and access the relevant Copy of the Register.
Some useful sites you can also gain up to date information include:'adverse%20possession%20l and%20registration%20act%202002'
I have been told that Adverse Possession is applicable to the whole of Europe not just the UK. I have been emailed by investors and speculators who claim that they have successfully used the same principal to claim land in Europe. However, as I have no personal knowledge of the legal system outside of the UK I cannot offer any advice or insight into the principal. Take a look at this site for the variance in the law covering differing states in the USA: or
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby treeman » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:54 pm

Bump :thinks:
I'll make no subscription to their paradise.

All Rights Reserved - Without Prejudice - Without Recourse - Non-Assumpsit
Errors & Omissions Excepted
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby holy vehm » Sat Oct 12, 2013 8:53 am

Legally speaking yes, but do we wish to partake in the legal realm.

Lawfully there is a much easier method, Allodial claim.

Find an unused parcel of land that is in keeping with your natural requirements, big enough to erect a shelter and grow enough food.
Notify those most likely to have an existing claim such as neighbors and the like.
Give it 28 days or that which is reasonable.
Unrebutted, your claim stands.
Move on and go about your lawful business.

One can only claim that which is being used/utilised. One cannot claim more than he needs, this is greed.

The elites for instance claim ownership of much land but only in the legal can ownership take place, naturally there is no such thing as ownership, certainly not in the sense of buying entitlement to something such as land. So the elites are primed for claiming against.
Some however are ahead of the curve, declaring their land as nature or wildlife reserves and thus, by doing nothing with the land (not using it) they can claim that they are preserving it and so on and thus technically using it.
This can be countered however by you having a better utilisation for it.

You cannot sell when you have finished with the land or how no further use for it, you would just relinquish your claim and move elsewhere. There is no time limit on how long you stay so long as it is being used and you use no more than is reasonable.
"A ruler who violates the law is illegitimate. He has no right to be obeyed. His commands are mere force and coercion. Rulers who act lawlessly, whose laws are unlawful, are mere criminals".
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby pogerina » Thu Mar 03, 2016 6:50 pm

I've found a property that is derelict and unregistered.

Can I tidy it up and rent it out to others?

If I do this for 12years, is it mine?
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby kerplunk » Sat Jun 04, 2016 9:02 am

Hi Good info there thanks

Quick question?

What if a company owned the land and they are now dissolved or no longer trading. Does the previous owner of that company still have a right to stake claim back from any squatter.

I have seen a few derelict Mills and Steel Workshops but not sure if they would be worth while.
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby alexavierodinn » Fri Aug 12, 2016 10:19 am

Very good and informative post having useful content.
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby saffy73 » Sat Sep 03, 2016 11:41 am

This is great thank you
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby earthcraig » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:19 am

Excellent info! :yes:
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Re: Legally Claiming Land and Property in the UK

Postby shaneorlov » Thu Oct 04, 2018 4:35 am

This is very informative thread people should know about what is the legal formalities should they follow in the case of purchasing properties.
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