Couple wins right to neighbour’s patch of land

Hastings houses

A judge has awarded ‘adverse possession’ of a grass verge to a couple who maintained it for 12 years, despite an appeal by its legal owner.

Mr and Mrs Kirkby began tending the piece of land after buying their home in 1999, although it was not part of the property. During a beautification project, they covered the untidy verge with 12 tons of topsoil, seeded it with grass and installed two car parking spaces.

In 2012, property consultant Mr Heaney, who owns a neighbouring property, acquired paper title to the verge and told the Kirkbys to make no further use of it. Mrs Kirkby responded by applying to have the land transferred into her name and a court battle ensued.

In the latest ruling, Lord Justice Sales of the Court of Appeal rejected Mr Heaney’s appeal, leaving him with a legal bill estimated at more than £250,000. Mrs Kirkby had been awarded adverse possession of the land when the case went before the First-Tier Tribunal and Upper Tribunal in 2014 and 2015. The ruling in her favour was based on the fact she could prove she had used the land as if it were her own for 12 years.

Expert advice on commercial property disputes

While the above case was a dispute between residential neighbours, the same principles apply to commercial property.

For expert advice on any commercial property dispute please contact Senior Associate Solicitor Cathy Allen:

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