Complex adverse possession case results in successful outcome for occupants

13th June 2023

When Mr Brown and Mr Halstead needed legal advice relating to a complex real estate claim, they were recommended by a barrister to Real Estate Dispute Resolution Partner Gary Parkinson. Mr Brown and Mr Halstead applied to the Land Registry in March 2020 to be joint owners of a large residential house in North Oxford they had occupied and in respect of which they had not paid rent or fees since 1996.

They argued that they had a claim to ‘adverse possession’ – where someone who doesn’t legally own a property can become the owner by being in possession of it for a period of 10 years; effectively ‘ousting’ the title from the original owner. The owner of the house, a Nigerian Chief, had died 31 years prior to their application. Mr Brown’s original tenancy began in 1987 based on a written agreement and he and Mr Halstead stopped paying rent in 1996 and 1997. They argued they had occupied the property for in excess of 10 years as their home without paying rent or acknowledging anyone else’s ownership.

One of the Chief’s daughters contested the claim arguing that they had occupied the property as tenants with the consent of the estate – and so had not been in adverse possession.

Gary became involved in the case two and half years after Mr Brown and Mr Halstead had first made their application to the Land Registry and shortly before the trial was due to take place. He quickly familiarised himself with the case and set about instructing a barrister and helped ensure the case was ready for trial, guiding the clients through the pre-trial process and quickly gaining their trust.

The successful outcome means both Mr Brown and Mr Halstead can remain living in the house they’ve occupied as their home and maintained for 27 years. The case involved complex legal arguments as to the status of Mr Brown’s and Mr Halstead’s tenancies and when they were legally terminated.

Following the case, Gary said: “I’m pleased to have been able to work again with the barrister, John Clargo of Gatehouse Chambers, and to assist Mr Brown and Mr Halstead keep the house they’ve lived in for nearly three decades – the thought of having your home taken away after such a long time isn’t a pleasant prospect; so I’m very glad it hasn’t come to that. I wish them the very best for the future.”

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