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Upper Tribunal dismisses bid to claim adverse possession over land owned by city council

Two applicants have been told they cannot claim adverse possession of council-owned land which is not adjacent to their own.

In Dowse v Bradford Metropolitan District Council (LAND REGISTRATION - Adverse possession) [2020] UKUT 202 (LC) the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) said this would be the case even if they proved adverse possession and a reasonable belief that the application land belonged to them from 2007-17.

Roy and Kathleen Dowse had appealed against a decision of the First-Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber), which had been in favour of City Of Bradford Metropolitan District Council.

The couple claimed adverse possession of land near their property on Staveley Road, Keighley.

But at the First Tier Tribunal a judge had said that para 5(4) of Schedule 6 of the Land Registration Act 2002 only applied in the case of a boundary dispute, which did not arise here.

The judge also said para 5(4) required the Dowses to prove that they reasonably believed that they had paper title to the land claimed, which they could not.            

They appealed on the grounds that the FTT judge had been wrong to find they did not have 10 years’ adverse possession established, that she was wrong to hold that para 5(4) applied only to boundary disputes and where paper titles existed and was also wrong to find the Dowses lacked a reasonable belief for upwards of 10 years that the application land belonged to them.

Mr Justice Fancourt said that having examined maps of the area concerned, the claimed land was anyway not adjacent to that of the Dowses within the meaning of para 5(4).

He said: “On that basis, the appellants cannot succeed even if they prove adverse possession and a reasonable belief that the application land belonged to them for the period from 2007 to 2017.”

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