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Possessory Title 2

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You are occupying a piece of land which belongs to another person. You did not pay for it. You have been living there for twelve or more years. You have never paid rent, no one ever came to evict you or establish a right. You have had continuous undisturbed occupation. Or perhaps you are occupying lands that your mother and grandmother owned for years but you have no document to show ownership. You have been paying the taxes due. You may have a case for possessory title.{{more}}

You can require your lawyer to make the appropriate application in pursuant to the Possessory Title Act, No. 38 of 2004. The application is made on prescribed form and requires a description of the land and the boundaries. In other words you need to have a plan of the land. This means that the land must be surveyed. The estimated value of land must also be provided.

Notice of application

You need to state the basis on which adverse occupation is claimed. In other words you must state how you came into possession of the land whether you acquired through parents or self. You must of necessity state whether any other person has made a claim or is “capable of making a claim.” This occurrence is likely to cause the claim to fail and persons who are claiming might be evasive. However, whether the applicant is forthcoming or not is not important as provision is made in the Act to bring the application to the notice of everyone and this question may be answered later on. A notice of the application must be circulated in at least two newspapers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The second notice must be posted not less than two months after the first issue.

The Applicant also has a duty to give the name, if any, of the person who owned the property before the period of adverse possession. This would require a search to be conducted at the Land Registry.

The application has to be accompanied by an affidavit sworn by the applicant and two from persons who know about the land and the adverse possession. These affidavits would be done in support of the application. Absence of supportive affidavits from persons need not cause the application to fail as the judge will still review the application to determine its merits.

Filing of application

During the two months between when the first and last notices are published in the newspaper, the applicant has the duty to post other notices as required by law. One notice must be posted at the Land Registry in Kingstown and another at a conspicuous place in the Magistrate Court building in the district in which the land is situated.

The applicant also has the duty within twenty-one days of the filing of the application to serve persons living on properties adjoining the property for which he seeks the possessory title. Where the owner of the land cannot be found he must place notice on the property itself.

Any person who might have a claim to the property could enter an appearance and within twenty-one days of the appearance, file a claim with information as to the name of the claimant and the facts relevant to his/her claim.

• Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com

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