New Zealand land ownership or “Torrens System” operates under a system of “indefeasibility of title”. As you might imagine from the terminology, if you have legal title to your land, it is by operation of law, not able to be lost, annulled or overturned. Logically this makes sense – ownership rights should be absolute, particularly in respect of our most important assets.
This contradicts the idea of adverse possession, a tricky piece of our law that allows a person to apply for title in their name if they can prove continuous possession.
In fact, in 2017 that exact situation occurred in Australia – which also has the Torrens System of land law, when a tenant whose landlord had passed away some 20 years earlier claimed (successfully) that by right of his continuous possession he was now the owner of the 1.8 million dollar Sydney home.
Think about your back yard, your fence line, or even your house. Are you sure it lies within your boundary? (especially taking into account the particular contours of some Wellington streets). It is possible, and more probable than you might imagine that the physical reality does not reflect the legal boundary of your property. The risk is that you or your neighbour may be encroaching, and with the passage of time could potentially become the owner.
Perhaps surprisingly given the peculiarity of this niche area of land law, the process to formalise the adverse possession, and legally change the boundary is reasonably simple. The benefit is that with the right advice and support, so is the process to evaluate your situation regarding making a claim or advise on a claim being made against you.
For More Information
If you are not sure if your boundaries are what you think they are, or you think you may be in a position to make a claim for land, get in touch with Jamie Nunns today to discuss your options. Under Jamie’s expert leadership, Morrison Kent has successfully made and defended a number of claims in this area, and have the requisite knowledge and experience to assist even the most technical of queries.
Read more property articles:
- Residential Building Contracts – When the price isn’t always the price
- Residential Conveyancing
- Purchasing a property – Doing your ‘due diligence’