(continued from Part 2 - which you can find HERE) .
A trespasser entitled to registered land, say, since 10 December 1999, could apply to Land Registry for it to be registered in his name. If he has not done this, a purchaser acquiring the land from the registered owner before 12th October 2006 would have taken it subject to the squatter's rights regardless of whether the trespasser was still in occupation. Today, however, a purchaser of the land will take it subject to the squatter's rights if the trespasser is in actual occupation of the land, except where the purchaser does not actually know about the trespasser's occupation and the occupation is not obvious from a reasonably careful inspection of the land at the time of the purchase. Moreover, a purchaser will not be bound by a squatter's rights if he failed to reveal them to a purchaser upon enquiry when it was reasonable for him to do so.
Under the Act a trespasser does not acquire an entitlement to be registered as the new owner. A trespasser can only be registered as the owner because either no objection has been lodged, or an objection has been disposed of in the applicant's favour; or one of the three conditions has been satisfied.
The 'interests' in land comprised in the first and second conditions are interests capable of binding a purchaser. A purchaser of registered land subject to these 'interests', if the trespasser is in occupation of the land, will be bound by them, except where the purchaser did not know about the squatter's occupation and such occupation would not have been obvious on a careful inspection at the time of the purchase. Moreover, a purchaser will not be bound by a squatter's rights if he failed to reveal them to a purchaser upon enquiry when it was reasonable for him to do so.
The third condition will bind a purchaser if the trespasser satisfies the terms of the condition, and the register will be rectified.
It is now more difficult to become the owner of registered land by adverse possession after 2003. For this reason, anyone owning unregistered land should voluntarily register it now, to stop a trespasser from continuing to accrue rights. If a trespasser has occupied unregistered land, say, for 5 years before it is first registered on 2nd February 2009, he will need to bring himself within the provisions of the Act if he is going to succeed in becoming the registered owner.
It is also crucial that the address for the registered owner on the register is kept up to date, so that if a notice of an application by a trespasser is sent by Land Registry, it will reach the owner. If an owner does not object to an application or serve a counter-notice within 65 business days, the trespasser will be registered as the new owner.
Francis Whitehead, B.A. (Hons),
Dip. in Land Registration Law and Practice, Solicitor.
Whitehead Woodward & Co., Solicitors
Copyright . All rights reserved. No responsibility for any loss brought about by reason of a person acting or not acting on the material in this article is accepted by the writer. Any views or opinions are not expressed to be the views or opinions of Land Registry and it is the writer's own interpretation of the law.
Dated 10th February 2009.