Adverse Possession – Old surveyors were not perfect

Recently a friend of mine told me of a battle beig fought over a several inches of soil between two neighbors. One building a new house was told by the builders that the fence was in the wrong place, and had to be moved a foot over to match the plans.  It turns out each block on the  street was slightly out of square as it was an old neighbourhood. How ever making this small correction was going to damage the adjoining driveway etc, so they didn’t want to do it.

Legally, if you have had a section of land within your boundary or fence for over 15 years and have maintained it for that period, then it is legally yours via “Adverse Possession”

  The “no lawyer” alternative play in this case is say – “The land is legally mine via Adverse Possession, however I am willing to forgo that land if you replace the fence into it’s correct position, and make good my driveway and anything else affected by moving the fence.”  I would also suggest you get the land surveyed correctly, maybe the whole street needs it, but that could open a can of worms…

You should always get a survey done when ever you buy a property – it will cost around $900 for a house block.

 There are two sections of the ACT dealing with Adverse Possesion:

  1. Large parcels of land are covered by section 60.
  2. Small parcels of land are covered under sector 26 or 27.

 Adverse possession

Adverse possession is a legal rule that enables the occupier of a piece of land to obtain ownership if they can prove uninterrupted and exclusive possession of the land for at least 15 years.
Adverse possession claims are complex to prepare and cannot be made against Crown land or council-owned land. If you are not certain about preparing an adverse possession claim you should consider employing a lawyer or other qualified adviser to do the work for you.Detailed information on the procedures that apply when pursuing an adverse possession claim is set out in a free online guide.


2 Responses to “Adverse Possession – Old surveyors were not perfect”

  1. Mick Beljan says:

    The boundary of my property has not changed in eighty seven years. I have been the owner for fourteen years. Does the fifteen year adverse posession rule apply to the property, or the owner? Kind regards, Mick.

    • Less says:

      Our understanding is that it means the owner that has had possession of the piece of land, & maintained it for over 15 years, has a claim to it. If you think you have a valid claim, I recommend you get a legal opinion. There is likely to be a need for a new land survey to detail and catalog any boundaries as they stand – the records from 87 years ago might not be so accurate.

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