So-called ‘squatter’s rights’ are a controversial subject, but they exist to ensure that Britain’s scarce land resources are used as fully as possible. In one case, an elderly woman established ownership of a grass verge outside her home which she had tended as part of her garden for many years.
After purchasing her home in 1999, the woman set about beautifying the verge and installing two car parking spaces. She imported 12 tons of topsoil, seeded the verge with grass and put in place a coping stone bearing the name of her home. In 2012, however, her neighbour succeeded in obtaining paper title to the verge, which had never previously been registered to any owner. He purported to forbid her to make any further use of it, whether for parking or otherwise.
She successfully argued before the First-tier and Upper Tribunals that she had, as of right, been in unchallenged possession of the verge for years and that its registered title should therefore be transferred to her. In rejecting her neighbour’s challenge to that result, the Court of Appeal found that she had been in adverse possession of the verge for the required 12-year period and was entitled to call it her own.