Adverse Possession of Land: Real Estate Law

Real Estate Law

In this article, we will address a brief description of adverse possession meaning and also discuss related terms and queries in regards to the doctrine of adverse possession Real Estate Law

Definition of Adverse Possession

Adverse Possession can be defined as a legal principle through which a person can claim title rights over property or piece of land which is owned by someone else. Since this legal procedure often grants rule in favour of the person claiming adverse possession, it is also known to be “squatter’s rights”. The term squatter simply implies a person who inhibits or occupies an unused piece of land or Real Estate Law by unlawful means.

Real Estate Law

Law of Adverse Possession

In India, the concept of adverse possession has long been into action since the time the land was owned and governed by rulers who would occupy land area by conquering it. However, in recent times people follow the same trend but with a little up-gradation. Usually, the doctrine of adverse possession is taken into account in three conditions:

  • In the first case scenario, when the actual owner of the property is least interested in investing in his land whereas the caretaker makes the best use of it by regular maintenance and up-gradation.
  • In the second place, when the title of land or property is in a state of abeyance i.e. without being under any owner or claimant, the land can be claimed for adverse possession.
  • And lastly, when the real owner of the property either abandons that piece of land or is least bothered by not retorting against the person claiming to be the adverse possessor of land.

Thus, in all these three scenarios, a concession is granted in favour of squatter for the adverse possession of the land. Moreover, the supreme court has also given a statement that is if a piece of land is under the surveillance of an adverse possessor for over 12 years, then he or she can also submit a proposal for reclaiming the property provided it should be put to proper use.

How to file for adverse possession?

If you are wondering on how a squatter applies for adversely possessing a piece of land then here are some of the pointers that will guide you through the procedure that involves adversely claiming the title on a piece land or property that is not your own. Learning the conditions on how to prove adverse possession (Real Estate Law) is vital before making a plea in the Supreme Court for claiming the property.

  • Firstly, you should be aware that the provisions granted over the adverse possession of real estate are passed under the norms listed in the Adverse Proportion Transfer of Property Act (Limitations Act) of 1963.
  • The commission is granted to the squatter in case the owner does not claim for his property for 12 years. In the case of government-owned properties, the period stated is 30 years.
  • To exercise legal rights over a property and to claim ownership, the squatter needs to adhere to the adverse possession requirements by providing valid proofs stating that his or her hold in that property has been uninterrupted for the entire said period. Note that you cannot break the period into portions or halves.
  • The squatter will only be granted with a commission when he or she is successful in proving to the Supreme Court that only he or she has been the sole occupant of the property without any other individual claiming for it over the years.
  • Moreover, the squatter will have to inform the owner if he takes up any renovations or upgradations in the property before claiming for adverse land possession and Real Estate Law.
  • However, the squatter may or may not inform the owner that he will apply for claiming the land. It is the sole responsibility of the owner to monitor the actions of the squatter.
  • Note that, any person cannot claim property for adverse possession in case if the owner is minor or of unsound mind. Also, a squatter does not benefit in adverse possession cases where properties belong to individuals who serve in the armed forces of the country.

An account on Adverse possession made challenging by the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court judgement on adverse possession was passed keeping in mind the interests of both the parties i.e. both the owner and the squatter. Thus, after addressing several cases on adverse possession Supreme Court states that:

  • Any claimant or squatter of a property will first have to accept the fact that the property belongs to someone else in real.
  • Secondly, the squatter needs to inform the real landowner about his claim and file a suit along with him.
  • Any individual cannot place a plea without getting a second party i.e. the actual landlord as an opponent who would give his or her reliance on the Supreme Court to make a judgement.
  • Only if the squatter can provide a verdict with proper evidence showing uninterrupted stay over 12 years then the Supreme Court is bound to pass a judgement in favour of adverse possession.


Q1. What is the acquisition period for claiming adverse possession?
Ans. The acquisition period is 12 years for properties owned by individuals and 30 years for government-owned Properties.

Q2. When was the Adverse Possession Transfer of Property Act passed?
Ans. The Adverse Possession Transfer of Property Act was passed in the year 1963. It is also known as the Limitations Act.