Adverse possession means "possession of land which is inconsistent with the title of the true owner". Adverse possession is dealt with under the Statute of Limitations Act 1957. The main period of time for adverse possession of land is 12 years. But other periods exist in certain special cases such as 30 years for recovery of land by a State Authority and 60 years for recovery of foreshore.
When considering an adverse possession claim it is important to identify when the 12 year period begins or from when the time begins to run.
The general rule is that time does not begin to run until the following has occurred;
- The true owner of the land is no longer in possession and
- Some other person has taken possession of the lands
Possession of the land involves both the physical control of the land and an intention to possess it to the exclusion of all others. Land that is simply left abandoned or vacant is not enough for a claim for adverse possession; the person making the claim must also show possession and an intention to possess.
A claim for adverse possession may also arise without either party being aware of it. As a general rule a mistake does not stop time running. Therefore, where there is a mistake as to where a boundary lies between adjoining lands a claim for adverse possession by a squatter(s) may arise without the owner or the squatter knowing.
However it is important to note that if it can be proved that there was fraud or an intentional concealment then the 12 year period will not begin to run until the fraud or concealment has been discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence.
Where a person suffers from a disability, is a minor or is of unsound mind the 12 year period will not begin to run until 6 years after the person ceases to have a disability or dies whichever occurs first. However in the case of land there is a limit on the applicable period of 30 years.
In order to stop the 12 year period from running action must be taken to re-claim possession from the Squatter. Part payment by the Squatter or a written and signed acknowledgement may only result in the 12 year period running afresh.
This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice, which should be obtained at all times. For more information, contact Eamon Concannon of Concannon Solicitors on 091-700-172/700-173 or e-mail with any queries.