The key criteria to be deemed a squatter are factual possession (usually proof of occupation for at least a decade), the intention to possess and staying in the land without the owner’s consent.
The main act defining squatter’s rights (aka adverse possession), is the Land Registration Act 2002, which applies to all cases of squatting after its enactment in October 2003. In cases of registered land, the squatter must have been occupying the land for at least 10 years before applying to register the land under their name.
The exceptions to this right are mainly land owned by the Crown which is 30 years of occupation and unregistered land, which is 12 years. When the squatter applies to the Land Registry to claim the land, any interested parties, including the registered proprietor, will be notified. If the application remains unopposed for 65 days, the squatter will become the registered proprietor. If opposed, the application will be rejected and the squatter will need to wait 2 years before reapplying, provided they have not been evicted.
Squatter’s rights – possession rights a person acquires over time because they exert control over land, usually through physical occupation.