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What is the 7 year Boundary Rule?

Updated: Sep 17, 2023


 

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The 7 Year Boundary Rule is a legal principle that can have significant implications for property owners. If you are buying or selling a property, it's essential to understand this rule and how it may affect you. In this guide, we'll explain what the 7 Year Boundary Rule is, how it works, and what you should do if there is a boundary dispute.



What is the 7 Year Boundary Rule?


The 7 Year Boundary Rule is a legal principle that states that if a property owner has been using a piece of land as their own for at least 7 years, they may be entitled to claim ownership of that land. This is known as "adverse possession" or "squatters' rights." Essentially, if you have been using someone else's land for an extended period, and they have not taken action to prevent this, you may be able to claim that land as your own.



How Does the 7 Year Boundary Rule Work?


The 7 Year Boundary Rule only applies if the use of the land is "open, visible, and without permission." This means that you cannot secretly use someone else's land and then claim ownership of it under this rule. You must have used the land openly and visibly for at least 7 years, and the true owner must have been aware of this use. If you meet these criteria, you may be able to claim ownership of the land, provided that you can prove your use of the land over the past 7 years.



What are the Exceptions to the 7 Year Boundary Rule?


There are some exceptions to the 7 Year Boundary Rule. For example, if the land in question is registered with the Land Registry, adverse possession is more challenging to establish. Additionally, if the land is considered a "public right of way," the 7 Year Boundary Rule does not apply. Furthermore, if the true owner of the land has taken legal action to prevent your use of the land, adverse possession is unlikely to be granted.


If you are unsure about land registration, at Land Registry Online, we offer a Title Register and Title Plan service that allows you to easily obtain this information. Simply select the desired documents, complete your details, and you will receive your documents by email within a few hours.



What to Do If There is a Boundary Dispute?


If there is a boundary dispute, the best course of action is to try to reach an agreement with your neighbor or the true owner of the land. You can also contact a mediator or solicitor to help you resolve the dispute. If all else fails, you may need to take legal action to establish your claim to the land or defend your ownership.



Summary


The 7 Year Boundary Rule can be a complex legal principle to navigate, but it's essential to understand it if you own property. Remember, it's always better to address these issues sooner rather than later to avoid any potential legal complications in the future.



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