Adverse Possession

In: Social Issues

Submitted By grainnecallaghan
Words 778
Pages 4
A Squatter – friend or foe?

On the 1st of September 2012, England and Wales passed legislation criminalising all acts of squatting, subjecting squatters to arrest, fine and imprisonment. Will Ireland follow in this direction?

At first glance, it seems that there are no rationales to the law of adverse possession and that squatter’s rights fly in the face of common sense, depriving the ordinary citizen of his right to peaceful enjoyment of his property and granting to the squatter an undeserved benefit. The potential abuse of this right is that which motivated the change of legislation in the UK. However the position of the Irish courts is to look more closely at the rights, and analyze their effect within a rural Irish setting. It appears that within this setting, adverse possession does in fact, indirectly benefit the community in which the squatter resides.

Nevertheless, it is accepted that rights of adverse possession are open to abuse. In attempting to discourage potential abuse, the law provides that a squatter must be in uninterrupted possession of private property for a minimum of twelve years before ownership rights can be claimed. The law also recognises all acts of interruption by or on behalf of the owner, no matter how slight, as sufficient in order to restart the twelve year clock running again as against the squatter. For example, acts of painting doors, fences, entering with a key and gardening. In this regard, only property which has been absolutely abandoned for twelve years can be claimed adversely. The question may be asked, is this sufficient? By contrast to the UK, Ireland considers that it is. Irish courts maintain that a balance must be struck between the protection of the owner's rights and the rationales in favour of the squatter's rights.

The first rationale refers to the maintainence of value in property. Property left…...

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