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Land Registration Act 2002

Section 98: Defences

160.Under this section a squatter can defend an action for possession of the land if the day before the action was brought he or she was entitled: to apply under paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 and the third condition (reasonable mistake as to boundary) would have been satisfied (subsection (1); or to apply under paragraph 6 of that Schedule (subsection (3)). If a court holds that the defence applies then it must order the registrar to register the squatter as proprietor of the affected estate (subsection (5)).

161.Because the defences under this section are additional to any other defences a squatter may have (subsection (6)), if he or she has some independent right to possession of the land, such as an equity arising in his or her favour by proprietary estoppel, he or she can rely upon it.

162.Under subsection (2) or (4), where a proprietor or chargee has obtained a judgment for possession of land against a squatter and:

  • when the proceedings in which the judgment was given were commenced, the squatter was entitled to apply for registration, under paragraph 1 of Schedule 6 (ten years adverse possession); or

  • two years after the judgment, the squatter is entitled to re-apply for registration under paragraph 6 of Schedule 6 (two years adverse possession since rejection of his or her paragraph 1 application);

then the judgment ceases to be enforceable against the squatter two years after the judgment (rather than, as is usual, six years).  If in either of these cases the proprietor or chargee were to bring fresh proceedings the squatter would have a defence and the court would be required to order the registrar to register the squatter as proprietor of the land, under subsection (5).

163.Subsection (7) enables rules to made about the recovery of rentcharges. The Limitation Act 1980 bars the rights of an owner of a rentcharge where no rent is paid for 12 years (when the charge is extinguished), or where the rent is paid to a third party for 12 years (when the rentcharge can still be enforced, but the previous owner’s title is extinguished and the third party becomes entitled instead). Rules under the subsection will be able to preserve the position of someone who has received rent whilst in adverse possession.

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