What is Adverse Possession?

In Victoria it is possible to acquire title to land by way of an adverse possession claim. To successfully make an adverse possession claim you will need to be able to prove that you (including any previous owners) have had uninterrupted and exclusive possession of the land for a minimum period of 15 years without objection from the actual landowner.

Obvious signs of long-term uninterrupted occupancy include making improvements on and fencing the land, changing the locks to any improvements or to any fences on the land and paying rates assessed on the land. Adverse possession claims commonly arise when fence lines do not align with title boundaries or land adjacent to a property is used without the true owner’s objection.

It is also possible to make an adverse possession claim on an abandoned easement, such as a carriageway or sewer, provided that it has not been used for the last 30 years. You cannot make an adverse possession claim over Crown Land or land owned by a public authority or owners corporation.

Adverse Possession Applications

Preparing an adverse possession application can be complex and the assistance of a lawyer is advisable. Adverse possession applications are made to Land Use Victoria and generally comprise the following documents:

  • Evidence of occupancy for the statutory period
  • Professional survey maps and photographs
  • Statutory declarations from you as the applicant and a disinterested witness who swears to the facts of your occupation of the land
  • A letter from the council providing evidence of the individuals recorded as the rated owners over the last 15 years
  • Land registry searches

The property lawyers at Robertson Hyetts are skilled in preparing adverse possession applications and assisting you with collecting and preparing the appropriate evidence, including, introducing you to estate agents and surveyors with the necessary experience and expertise, to ensure your adverse possession claim is a success.