Squatters' rights to property

A long-term squatter can become the registered owner of property or land they’ve occupied without the owner’s permission.

Get legal advice from a conveyancer or solicitor if you’re a squatter in a property and want to claim ownership.

Who can apply

You can apply if you can prove:

  • you, or a succession of squatters, have occupied the property continuously for 10 years (12 years if it’s not registered with HM Land Registry)
  • you (or your predecessors) acted as owners of the property for the whole of that time
  • you (or any of your predecessors) didn’t have the owner’s permission, for example the property wasn’t originally rented to a squatter

If the property’s registered

Fill in a form for adverse possession.

Complete and sign a written ‘statement of truth’, or get a solicitor to prepare this for you.

Send your form and statement to the HM Land Registry Citizen Centre.

HM Land Registry
Citizen Centre
PO Box 74
Gloucester
GL14 9BB

HM Land Registry will decide if your application is valid and will let the property owner know. The owner has 65 days to object - your application will usually be automatically rejected if they do.

You’ll be registered as the owner of the property if there’s no objection.

You can apply again after 2 years if:

  • the owner hasn’t tried to remove you
  • the property hasn’t been reclaimed
  • you’re still in possession of the property

HM Land Registry will usually then register you as the owner.

If the property’s unregistered

Complete and sign a written ‘statement of truth’, or get a solicitor to prepare this for you.

Apply for first registration - include your statement with your application.

HM Land Registry will:

  • inspect the property - you must pay a fee for this
  • decide if your application is valid
  • let the property owner know, if they have their details

You can try to come to an agreement with the owners if they object. HM Land Registry will arrange a tribunal to decide who owns the property if you can’t agree or don’t want to.

You may have to pay the costs of the owner, such as their reasonable legal fees, no matter what the outcome.