Adverse possession is defined as a way of gaining a legal title to real property by “actual, open, hostile and continuous possession of it”, by excluding the actual owner, after a certain amount of time prescribed by the state law. It is also known as “Squatters’ law”.
What it actually means is that if you, as a squatter, have been in “adverse possession” (living in a real property registered or unregistered – you do not own or pay rent for), for a minimum of 12 years. You could apply for registration of title and become the owner of the property without any financial transaction. After 2002, the Land Registration Act established a new regime that applies only to registered land. It also reduced the continuous adverse possession to 10 years before requesting to become the registered owner. On the other hand, the act should actually offer a safety net for the registered (real) owner, him being able to counteract an application following adverse possession.
The law requirements
Which are the law requirements when applying for valid title to property, when in adverse possession?
The adverse possession must be:
You also must prove that you intended factual possession (continuously living in or taking care of the property) and intention to possession (treated the property as yours, making reparations or improving the property).
How can you protect your property as a true owner?
Because the LRA 2002 came into force in October 2003, two different regimes can apply: