In my normal course of work, a lady approached me for advise. She narrated to me of how someone had occupied her land for the last two years without her consent. She was notified by a curious neighbor. The trespasser had even put up permanent structures on her land and gone ahead to claim ownership of her land. What surprised her, is that she was still in possession of her title.
Through consultation from various people, someone had whispered to her that she could loose her land through Adverse possession. Worried such lamentations, she sought to know what adverse possession really was and how it could be effected on someone’s right over property.
Adverse possession is what I would simply describe as squatter rights. This is founded on a doctrine of law that allows people who have unlawfully occupied someone’s land for a period of over 12 years to apply for property rights over the land.
When a person claims to have become entitled by adverse possession to land registered, he or she may apply to the High court in order to get an order to be registered as the proprietor of the land in place of the person who is then registered as the proprietor until he obtains a vesting order which is ordered by the High Court.
However possession is not enough evidence on it’s own and one has to prove other requirements.
That there was open and notorious use of the land and the owner failed to intervene or take any action.
The person had actual possession of the land. This is shown by displaying that the occupier engaged in activities that the land owner should have done. The actions include farming, building a house, clearing the area and even fencing.
That there has been continuous use of the land for over 12 years. If the Statutory period has not lapsed, then the Court cannot uphold your claim.
There was exclusive use of the land to the exclusion of the owner. When the occupier even did farming and built a house without the owner raising issues.
The occupation must also be without the consent of the owner. Anyone who lives on another person’s land is described as a trespasser by law.
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